VIZ - - Danger! -


STRIKE: There are lit­er­ally bil­lions of me­te­ors hurtling round our so­lar sys­tem at any one time. Each day, an es­ti­mated 100 tons of space rock smashes into the sur­face of the earth. Most pieces land harm­lessly in the sea or fall onto un­in­hab­ited ar­eas. But the ter­ri­fy­ing truth is, there’s no rea­son why a me­te­orite shouldn’t hit YOUR kitchen. You might be stand­ing by a win­dow, in­no­cently fill­ing the ket­tle, mak­ing some toast or rins­ing the teapot when a cricket-ball-sized lump of white-hot iron, trav­el­ling at 5 miles a sec­ond, smashes through the win­dow and hits you square in the face. The good news is, you won’t know a thing about it as you will be in­stantly liq­ue­fied by the ul­tra­sonic shock wave from the im­pact. And don’t think that sim­ply mov­ing your toaster and ket­tle away from the win­dow will save you. This cos­mic mis­sile of an­ni­hi­la­tion has a ki­netic en­ergy of more than 1.5 Me­ga­joules - enough to smash through your walls, roof or ceil­ing as if they’re not there.


AT­TACK: One of the con­se­quences of a mod­ern global trad­ing econ­omy is that our white goods are now man­u­fac­tured all over the world. It’s quite likely that your toaster was made in Korea, your dish­washer was made in In­dia, and your fridge was made in Ja­pan. And that could be a big prob­lem, be­cause Ja­pan is home to the Ja­panese Pit Viper

(Gloy­dius blomhof­fii), the Far East’s most ven­omous snake. If one of these ag­gres­sive rep­tiles hap­pened to slither un­seen into the back of your fridge at the fac­tory, it could well still be there, ly­ing dor­mant and curled up around the work­ings. As the com­pres­sor warms up, so will the snake’s blood, grad­u­ally bring­ing it out of its tor­pid state. Next time you go to open the fridge door, the viper will be wait­ing for you, coiled and wait­ing to strike, pump­ing enough neu­ro­toxic venom to kill a carthorse into your veins. Writhing in agony as the blood clots in your ar­ter­ies and cap­il­lar­ies, you will wel­come the sweet oblivion of death when it fi­nally comes af­ter about a quar­ter of an hour of unimag­in­able suf­fer­ing.

WE ALL KNOW that the kitchen, with its sharp blades, boil­ing ket­tles and bub­bling chip-pans, is the most dan­ger­ous room in the house. We try to min­imise the risk of hav­ing an ac­ci­dent by tak­ing sim­ple pre­cau­tions, for ex­am­ple, never leav­ing the cooker unat­tended, not al­low­ing elec­tri­cal flexes to trail, keep­ing knives and scis­sors safely locked away from chil­dren. But the ter­ri­fy­ing truth is that our kitchens har­bour many more threats to our lives... threats that we can­not fore­see and can do noth­ing about. Here are some of the un­fore­seen dan­gers that are wait­ing to kill us each and every time we step into the kitchen, and against which we are pow­er­less to pro­tect our­selves.


BOMBS: Dur­ing the World War II, Hitler’s Luft­waffe rained down over half a mil­lion bombs on the UK main­land. Al­though most det­o­nated on im­pact, around 20% - up to 100,000 - never went off. These un­ex­ploded bombs still lie where they fell, and are un­earthed reg­u­larly on build­ing sites, in road­works and in farm­ers’ fields to this day. If your house was built be­fore 1945, there’s every chance that one of these deadly de­vices is lodged be­hind your cooker, in the back of a cup­board or un­der the sink. The slight­est move­ment, for ex­am­ple, push­ing down the pop-up mech­a­nism on your toaster, crack­ing an egg into a fry­ing pan or dunk­ing a bis­cuit in a cup of tea, could be enough to set up a vi­bra­tion that will trig­ger its 70-year-old det­o­na­tor back into ac­tion.


The earth on which you live is a young planet. The thin ve­neer of hu­man habi­ta­tion ex­ists atop a thin crust float­ing on a vast, seething sea of molten rock. It is a sober­ing thought that just a few hun­dred me­tres be­low your home lie bil­lions of tons of white hot magma un­der im­mense pres­sure. At any mo­ment, that crust may crack like a crème brûlée, al­low­ing a lethal spume of lava to burst up through your kitchen floor. There will be no warn­ing. The tiles will bulge up­wards alarm­ingly, fol­lowed mere nanosec­onds later by the sick­en­ing stench of sulphur as the un­stop­pable py­ro­clas­tic tide of scorch­ing liq­uid rock surges through the fis­sure, fill­ing the room to the ceil­ing and cap­tur­ing the ex­cru­ci­at­ing tor­ment of your fi­nal mo­ments forever, Pom­peii-like, in a kitchen-shaped block of basalt.


SHOCK: We are all told to wash our hands be­fore and af­ter han­dling food, but is that good ad­vice? Be­cause, un­der cer­tain very spe­cific cir­cum­stances, the sim­ple act of rins­ing your hands un­der the tap could cost you your life. That’s be­cause the UK coun­try­side is criss-crossed by a net­work of py­lons sup­port­ing thou­sands of miles of high ten­sion ca­bles, each one car­ry­ing tens of thou­sands of volts. Many of these wires cross over reser­voirs, and if one of them should snap and fall into the wa­ter, the cur­rent will flow through the wa­ter and into your house through the pipes. Go­ing to wash your hands in these cir­cum­stances will be tan­ta­mount to sign­ing your own death war­rant. As the elec­tri­fied wa­ter hits your skin, 10,000 volts will course through your body, ren­der­ing you paral­ysed as you are cooked alive from within. Your siz­zling flesh will ex­pand as it heats up un­til your skin splits like a grotesque sausage. Next Week: Dan­gers in Your Bed­room!

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