Wednesday, January 26, 2005

When Appliances Attack...

With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein: Driver that dozes and small household fires... Bites from RottWEILLers and worn treads on tires... Old-fashioned blinds of the kind that have strings... These Are A Few of Our Dangerous THINGS! I was reading an article recently about things that don't seem dangerous, but in reality are about as safe as housing a python in your bathtub. (Oh, I'm sure people do that. Don't get me started.) You must be aware by now that I'm intensely interested in protecting the public from under-emphasized dangers such as bacteria lurking on cantaloupe rinds, mercury thermometers on airplanes and the possibility of a Florida Swamp Monster stealing your boombox at the playground. SOMEONE has to look out for you, and after a hotly contested primary, I nominated myself. So this article on Dangerous Ordinary Things rolled a perfect strike up my mental Bowling Alley. The article was based on an interview with author Laura Lee, whose book is titled, "100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What You Can Do About Them." For me, mainly, it's WORRY about them. But I'm not happy unless everyone else is worrying with me. Obviously I can't cover all 100 things in one day, but if I do two a year I can get through all 100 things prior to my actual death, which may ironically turn out to be toaster-related. Today we are covering that most innocent-looking of all creatures in your kitchen, the Dishwasher. You think of it as a "convenience" that will make your life easier. Ha! In reality it is just a built-in booby trap lying in wait so it can severely injure you. Turns out that the Dishwasher Species of the Appliance Family (Kenmore Erectus) has been responsible for at least two actual deaths in the past 10 years. (According to U.S. mortality statistics) That's an average of TWENTY people per century falling victim to homicidal dishwashers. And I'm sure those figures would be even higher if people hadn't washed everything by hand prior to the 1950s! The dishwashers' modus operandi is to wait quietly with their doors open and their lower racks extended. Then the unsuspecting homeowner slips on a convenient "wet spot" (perhaps secretly leaked by the Alleged Dishwasher in question) and impales him or herself on the upturned knives and forks protruding from the silverware basket. MY guess is that a lot more than two deaths have occurred in this manner, but it is underestimated due to the nature of the injury. Thus embarrassed spouses are actually reporting it as suicide by chef's knife, or perhaps a crime of passion involving the special grapefruit blade, or even a Self-Surgery gone awry. Any of these sounds better than "he fell into the dishwasher." Another way dishwashers can harm your family is as a source of poison to children and pets via leftover soap residue in the dispenser. I have to admit, for as many times as I have told the children that matches are radioactive and household cleansers will cause your body and any toy you are holding to dissolve on contact, I have never once warned them not to eat the detergent out of the dishwasher. I plan to remedy this soon, perhaps with a color-coded sign that will also warn Hubby not to spoon the detergent into his coffee either. A final common injury is from steam burns to the face, chest and upper extremities as you lean in to retrieve the dishes immediately upon the completion of the drying cycle. This sometimes results in a red-faced trip to the emergency room, but usually not death, unless you leap backward directly into your garbage disposal unit. So you see, you are definitely not safe in your own home. We might even be better off eating from those paper plates. So the next time you think you can just relax in your easy chair, remember to send someone else to fetch a cup from the dishwasher.

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