London Fire Brigade Suggests One Might Wish to Avoid Sticking Oneself in Things

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The London Fire Brigade, which as you might expect is one of the largest firefighting and rescue organizations in the world, has issued a press release noting that "the number of incidents involving people being stuck or trapped in objects" has risen in each of the last three years, leading to a similar rise in 999 calls (equivalent to 911 in the U.S.).

The release provides "three top tips" in an effort to reduce the number of incidents and calls, tips that boil down to (1) use common sense, (2) always know where the handcuff keys are, and (3) don't stick body parts in places they don't belong.

According to the statement, the Brigade has responded to more than 1,300 stuck-people incidents since 2010, which resulted in 307 injuries and an estimated £377,000 in costs to taxpayers. The incidents included:

  • 18 children who got their heads stuck in toilet seats
  • 17 fingers stuck in toys
  • Four incidents involving blenders
  • One adult stuck in a child's toy car
  • One with his arm stuck in a "portaloo"
  • One child with a tamborine stuck on its head
  • And no fewer than 79 incidents involving people trapped in handcuffs.

A Brigade officer speculated that the rise in handcuff-trappings might be due to what he called the "Fifty Shades effect," apparently referring to a series of books in which somebody gets handcuffed a lot. "I'm sure most people [in these situations] will be fifty shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them," he said, apparently referring to activities in which the handcuffed person or persons in those books may have been engaged.

Somewhat similarly, a number of the incidents involved English gentlemen whose how-do-you-do had somehow become trapped in something. The recalcitrant items included various sorts of rings, a vacuum cleaner, and (one that may well have warranted a 999 call) a toaster. The LFB did not elaborate on this last one, but it is worth noting that you should always unplug a toaster before attempting to pry out a stuck muffin, and never use anything conductive in an effort to do so.

"If there's a genuine emergency," the officer noted, "fire crews will of course attend and will be on the scene to help within minutes." (Possibly faster, and with cameras, depending on what you are trapped in.) But, he continued, "avoidable incidents" like those above should be … well, avoided.