Toilet-related injuries and deaths

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There have been many toilet-related injuries and deaths throughout history and in urban legends.


Accidental injuries

Infants and toddlers have fallen headfirst into toilet bowls and drowned. Safety devices exist to help prevent such accidents. [1] [2] Injuries to adults include bruised buttocks and tail bones, as well as dislocated hips have resulted from unexpectedly sitting on the toilet bowl rim because the seat is up or loose. Injuries can also be caused by pinching due to splits in plastic seats and/or by splinters from wooden seats, or if the toilet itself collapses or shatters under the weight of the user. Older high-tank cast-iron cisterns have been known to detach from the wall when the chain is pulled to flush, causing injuries to the user. [3] The 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in Public Health was awarded to three physicians from the Glasgow Western Infirmary for a 1993 case report on wounds sustained to the buttocks due to collapsing toilets. [4] Furthermore, injuries are frequently sustained by people who stand on toilets to reach a height, then slip and fall. There are also instances of people slipping on a wet bathroom floor or from a bath and concussing themselves on the fixture.

Toilet-related injuries are surprisingly common, with some estimates ranging as high as 40,000 in the US every year. [5] In the past, this number would have been much higher, due to the material from which toilet paper was made. This was shown in a 1935 Northern Tissue advertisement which depicted splinter-free toilet paper. [6] In 2012, 2.3 million toilets in the United States, and about 9,400 in Canada, were recalled due to faulty pressure-assist flush mechanisms which put users at risk of the fixture exploding. [7]

Injuries caused by animals

There are also injuries caused by animals. Some black widow spiders like to spin their web below the toilet seat because insects abound in and around it. Therefore, several people have been bitten while using a toilet, particularly outhouse toilets. Although there is immediate pain at the bite site, these bites are rarely fatal. [8] The danger of spiders living beneath toilet seats is the subject of Slim Newton's comic 1972 country song "The Redback on the Toilet Seat".

It has been reported that in some cases rats crawl up through toilet sewer pipes and emerge in the toilet bowl, so that toilet users may be at risk of having a rat crawl up their buttocks. [9] Many rat exterminators do not believe this, as pipes, at generally six inches (15 centimeters) wide, are too large for rats to climb and are also very slippery. Reports by janitors are always on the top floor, and could involve the rats on the roof, entering the soil pipe through the roof vent, lowering themselves into the pipe, and then into the toilet. [10]

In May 2016, an 11-foot snake, a reticulated python, emerged from a squat toilet and bit the man using it on his penis at his home in Chachoengsao Province, Thailand. Both the victim and the python survived. [11] [12]

Self-induced injury

Some instances of toilet-related deaths are attributed to the drop in blood pressure due to the parasympathetic nervous system during bowel movements. This effect may be magnified by existing circulatory issues. It is further possible that people succumb on the toilet to chronic constipation, because the Valsalva maneuver is often dangerously used to aid in the expulsion of feces from the rectum during a bowel movement. According to Sharon Mantik Lewis, Margaret McLean Heitkemper and Shannon Ruff Dirksen, the "Valsalva maneuver occurs during straining to pass a hardened stool. If defecation is suppressed over long periods, problems can occur, such as constipation or stool impaction. Defecation can be facilitated by the Valsalva maneuver. This maneuver involves contraction of the chest muscles on a closed glottis with simultaneous contraction of the abdominal muscles." [13] This means that people can die while "straining at stool." In chapter 8 of their Abdominal Emergencies, David Cline and Latha Stead wrote that "autopsy studies continue to reveal missed bowel obstruction as an unexpected cause of death". [14] Dr Caolan Coleman was injured while trying to defecate while at work. He stood up too quickly, hitting his head on a cupboard. This caused a laceration which required glue to treat the wouund.

A 2001 Sopranos episode "He is Risen" shows a fictional depiction of the risk, when the character Gigi Cestone has a heart attack on the toilet of his social club while straining to defecate. [15]

Exploding toilets

In the Victorian era, there was a perceived risk of toilets exploding. These scenarios typically include a flammable substance (either accidentally or deliberately) being introduced into the toilet water, and a lit match or cigarette igniting and exploding the toilet. [16] In 2014, Sloan's Flushmate pressure-assisted flushing system, which uses compressed air to force waste down the drain, was recalled after the company received reports of the air tank failing under pressure and shattering the porcelain. [17]

Historical deaths

Possible occurrences

Urban legends

Urban legends have been reported regarding the dangers of using a toilet in a variety of situations. Several of them have been shown to be questionable. These include some cases of the presence of venomous spiders [38] but do not include the Australian redback spider who has a reputation for hiding under toilet seats. [39] These recent fears have emerged from a series of hoax emails originating in the Blush Spider hoax, which began circulating the internet in 1999. [40] Spiders have also been reported to live under seats of airplanes, however, the cleaning chemicals used in the toilets would result in an incompatibility with spider's survival. [41]

In large cities like New York City, sewer rats often have mythical status regarding size and ferocity, resulting in tales involving the rodents crawling up sewer pipes to attack an unwitting occupant. Of late, stories about terrorists booby trapping the seat to castrate their targets have begun appearing. [42] Another myth is the risk of being sucked into an aircraft lavatory as a result of vacuum pressure during a flight. [43]

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Defecation</span> Expulsion of feces from the digestive tract via the anus

Defecation follows digestion, and is a necessary process by which organisms eliminate a solid, semisolid, or liquid waste material known as feces from the digestive tract via the anus. The act has a variety of names ranging from the common, like pooping or crapping, to the technical, e.g. bowel movement, to the obscene (shitting), to the euphemistic, to the juvenile. The topic, usually avoided in polite company, can become the basis for some potty humor.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Urination</span> Release of urine from the urinary bladder

Urination is the release of urine from the bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body. It is the urinary system's form of excretion. It is also known medically as micturition, voiding, uresis, or, rarely, emiction, and known colloquially by various names including peeing, weeing, pissing, and euphemistically going number one. In healthy humans and other animals, the process of urination is under voluntary control. In infants, some elderly individuals, and those with neurological injury, urination may occur as a reflex. It is normal for adult humans to urinate up to seven times during the day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flush toilet</span> Toilet that uses water to convey human waste down a pipe

A flush toilet is a toilet that disposes of human waste by using the force of water to flush it through a drainpipe to another location for treatment, either nearby or at a communal facility, thus maintaining a separation between humans and their waste. Flush toilets can be designed for sitting or squatting, in the case of squat toilets. Most modern sewage treatment systems are also designed to process specially designed toilet paper. The opposite of a flush toilet is a dry toilet, which uses no water for flushing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Valsalva maneuver</span> Technique for equalising pressure in the middle ears

The Valsalva maneuver is performed by a forceful attempt of exhalation against a closed airway, usually done by closing one's mouth and pinching one's nose shut while expelling air out as if blowing up a balloon. Variations of the maneuver can be used either in medical examination as a test of cardiac function and autonomic nervous control of the heart, or to clear the ears and sinuses when ambient pressure changes, as in scuba diving, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or air travel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Squat toilet</span> Toilet used by squatting

A squat toilet is a toilet used by squatting, rather than sitting. This means that the posture for defecation and for female urination is to place one foot on each side of the toilet drain or hole and to squat over it. There are several types of squat toilets, but they all consist essentially of a toilet pan or bowl at floor level. Such a toilet pan is also called a "squatting pan". A squat toilet may use a water seal and therefore be a flush toilet, or it can be without a water seal and therefore be a dry toilet. The term "squat" refers only to the expected defecation posture and not any other aspects of toilet technology, such as whether it is water flushed or not.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toilets in Japan</span> Description of toilets in Japan

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A pit latrine, also known as pit toilet, is a type of toilet that collects human waste in a hole in the ground. Urine and feces enter the pit through a drop hole in the floor, which might be connected to a toilet seat or squatting pan for user comfort. Pit latrines can be built to function without water or they can have a water seal. When properly built and maintained, pit latrines can decrease the spread of disease by reducing the amount of human feces in the environment from open defecation. This decreases the transfer of pathogens between feces and food by flies. These pathogens are major causes of infectious diarrhea and intestinal worm infections. Infectious diarrhea resulted in about 700,000 deaths in children under five years old in 2011 and 250 million lost school days. Pit latrines are a low-cost method of separating feces from people.

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Anal hygiene or anal cleansing refers to the practices that are performed on a person's anus to maintain hygiene, usually in the aftermath of defecation. Post-defecation cleansing is rarely discussed academically, partly due to the social taboo surrounding it. The scientific objective of post-defecation cleansing is to prevent exposure to pathogens. The process of post-defecation cleansing involves either washing the anus and inner part of the buttocks with water or wiping the area with dry materials such as toilet paper. Water-based cleansing typically involves either the use of running water from a handheld vessel and a hand for washing or the use of pressurized water through a jet device, such as a bidet. In either method, subsequent hand sanitization is essential to achieve the ultimate objectives of post-defecation cleansing.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Defecation postures</span> Squatting or sitting to defecate

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Squatting is a versatile posture where the weight of the body is on the feet but the knees and hips are bent. In contrast, sitting involves supporting the weight of the body on the ischial tuberosities of the pelvis, with the lower buttocks in contact with the ground or a horizontal object. The angle between the legs when squatting can vary from zero to widely splayed out, flexibility permitting. Another variable may be the degree of forward tilt of the upper body from the hips. Squatting may be either full or partial.

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37. Elvis’ addiction was the perfect prescription for an early death