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EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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Health Alert: Hidden Household Hazards

By SB Shoemaker

On the day that Myrtle Marquart became a statistic, she never knew what hit her. That fateful morning, her vacuum cleaner malfunctioned, racing out of control when the speed governor failed.  If she had reacted differently, Myrtle might have survived, but she failed to let go as the machine quickly accelerated to speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. By then, it was too late.

Myrtle had become another casualty of an unreported epidemic raging across the country.  According to records kept for no particular reason by an obscure government agency, housework kills.

Women are three times more likely to die in hideous tragedies involving turkey basters than they are from car accidents, falls, bee stings, squirrel attacks and freak electrocutions combined. Statistics for men, who typically have little or no experience with housework, are not available.

All types of housework, not just those involving appliances, can be hazardous.  Esther Bogges was found on the floor of her living room by her husband, the apparent victim of an out-of-control feather duster. She has no memory of the attack. Police investigators believe that Mrs. Bogges may have grasped the duster by the feather end and, instead of dusting, accidentally beat herself unconscious with the handle. The duster remains in custody.

Betty Lou Carbuncle is still recovering from her encounter with a runaway eggbeater. “Once it got going, I just couldn't stop it,” she recalls. As she started to spin the beater, “it took on a life of its own, like it was possessed.” She used one hand to call her pastor, but that only made the situation worse. “When I tried to seek the Lord's help, it just went insane.”

Mrs. Carbuncle fought for her life as the eggbeater savagely splattered her walls and ceiling with cornbread batter. She gives full credit for her salvation to a higher power.  She grabbed her Bible and jammed it into the beaters, disabling them long enough for her to escape without permanent injury.

These women are not alone. Every year, millions of lives are senselessly lost in accidents just like these.  Most people are simply unaware of how dangerous their homes can be. Just ask former beauty salon owner Candy Demarco. “I never thought my dryer could do a thing like that.  I knew it ate socks, and sometimes shredded delicates, but I never suspected how vicious it could be.”

When she removed Mr. Whiskers, her prize-winning Persian cat, from the dryer at the end of the air fluff cycle, the static buildup discharged, igniting the fumes from her Basement Boutique Nail Emporium. The resulting fireball incinerated the room immediately overhead along with everything in it, including the members of the Red Hat Bridge Club who had just dealt their last hand.

In response to reports of the growing threat, the Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hired an undocumented maid before releasing a statement that insists people are secure in their own homes and the danger is “overrated.”

Until the government decides to act, prevention is the key to personal safety.  If at all possible, avoid doing housework entirely. If some housework becomes essential, try to find someone else to do it for you, preferably someone you don't like very much, or ask your husband, or children.  If that isn't convenient, use the buddy system, as some appliances may be intimidated if outnumbered.

Whatever you do, remember to stay calm if you find yourself in a threatening situation. Gloria Bosanova discovered this the hard way.  “I was minding my own business, cleaning the toilet, when the lid suddenly dropped on my head.  The pressure was incredible, like being crushed in the jaws of a great white shark.  I almost passed out. Luckily I didn't panic, but if I hadn't had my cell phone with me, I don't know what would have happened.”

© S. Shoemaker All Rights Reserved

OTHER HW ARTICLES BY SB SHOEMAKER

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan, a former flight instructor and air traffic controller, now spends most of her time looking for her car keys. She lives and writes in southern Wisconsin, but would much prefer to spend winters drinking and writing in the south of France. If you bothered to read this far, please contact all the publishers you know and tell them to send her money. Or you can cut out the middleperson and just send it to her directly.  Or wire it, because it isn't safe to send cash through the mail.  And ever since that incident involving the Fantasy Chippendale League, she no longer trusts the staff here at HW. Even though it was just a joke and she got her money back. Contact Susan: sbshoemakerxhappywomanmagazine.com (replace X with A before sending)