Every man’s home may be his castle but as we know from medieval times, castles can be dangerous places. The statistics on accidents in the home are staggering – twenty thousand deaths a year; seven million disabling injuries, and twenty million hospital visits. Falls, poisoning, and fires are the top three causes of home injuries.
Television commercials advise us to drink responsibly. That caveat applies to me when using certain products. Warning labels are written with me in mind. Picture the legal department of a large firm figuring how to protect the corporation against damages from the misuse of its product.
“I think we’ve got it covered,” says the chief attorney. “Except for that writer-person in Carmel.”
The story of my close call with becoming a statistic needs to be told backwards. “Never put polyurethane glue in a microwave,” it reads in big red letters on the company’s website. Now back up fifteen or twenty minutes.
I am a bundle of energy, multitasking my way through the morning by cleaning my bathtub, watching a golf tournament on television, and baking a pie. The device I use on the bathtub has a telescoping handle with a sponge on the end. Suddenly half of the sponge comes loose and begins flapping at the end of the handle. Surely it can be glued back in place, I reason.
The polyurethane glue I have has hardened in the plastic container. Hmm. Probably can soften it in hot water, but that would take too long. Ten or fifteen seconds in the microwave should make it flow again. So I zap it. I am distracted by Sergio Garcia hitting a great approach shot. How much time has passed? Can’t be more than 20 seconds. I remove the glue container and twist the cap off. It explodes!
The glue covers my thumb and the area between my thumb and index finger, as well as the index finger and second finger on my left hand. Some has splattered on my face. A lot of it is on the left lens of my eyeglasses. Strangely, there’s a phrase that comes to my mind when I am faced with imminent danger: Roy Scheider in the movie, “Jaws,” saying: “I think we need a bigger boat.”
Polyurethane glue on your skin is one thing. Hot polyurethane glue is quite another. This is what napalm must feel like. I quickly hold my hand under cold water. But wait. If this stuff hardens on my glasses I’ll never get it off. So I hold the lens under hot water and scrape the glue with my finger nail. Surprisingly, enough comes off so that I can see better. Hand back under cold water. DING! The oven timer goes off. The pie is done. The sink is close enough to the oven so I can reach in with my right hand (wearing an oven mitt, I’m a klutz, not a super klutz) and remove the pie while keeping my left hand under cold water. How am I going to get this stuff off my skin? I go to my computer and Google the name of the glue product. That’s when I see the warning about the glue and microwaves. Then I realize two of my fingers are stuck to the “w” and “a” keys on the keyboard. Another wild thought. I see myself driving to the Emergency Room. A policeman stops me. With a keyboard glued to my fingers there is no way I can convince him I’m not texting while driving.
Then I remember I have a gelatinized burn dressing that immediately stops the burning process, cools the burn, eases the pain, and protects against contamination. Pain relief came quickly. I needed to keep the dressing on my hand so I decided to watch the golf tournament. On my TV set a blue screen was flashing the words: “no signal.”
Now for some good news. A technician fixed the TV problem over the phone. The pie was delicious. There was no blistering on my hands from the hot glue. Gently applying a pumice stone to my skin removed the glue within two days. People have stopped asking if I’ve had a chemical peel on my face. Steve Green, at Optique America on Lincoln near Sixth, got all the glue off my glasses without removing the protective coating. The bath tub sponger? There was a puddle of glue on the kitchen counter. I soaked it up with the loose sponge, adhering it back in place. It’s working fine. The bath tub is clean but I’m having a grab bar installed to help me get in and out of it without falling – considering my history I can’t be too careful.