IN YOUR KITCHEN!
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!