Exploding Toilet Sends Brooklyn Man to the Hospital

Bad things often happen in mysterious, inexplicable ways. Michel Pierre of Brooklyn experienced this first hand this week when he pulled the handle of his toilet, and the whole thing exploded in his face. The blast knocked him out and sent him to the hospital where he got 30 stitches.

You're probably wondering one (or both) of two things. One, why did that poor man's toilet explode in his face? And two, is my toilet going to explode in my face?

Well, the answer to the first question is probably pretty straightforward. The water in the victim's building had been turned off earlier in the day, and when he went to try the handle, he just wanted to see if it had been turned back on. Unfortunately, it had—and caused the explosion that sent pieces of porcelain shrapnel into Pierre's head, arms and legs. "When the water was turned back on, the pressure caused a burst of air that came up through the pipe," the building co-op's lawyer Theresa Racht told the New York Daily News. "It was totally unexpected. We’re looking into whether this was preventable or a one-time fluke."

This is where that second question comes into play. To answer it bluntly: no, your toilet will probably not explode in your face. It looks like it was a freak accident, but it's important to remember that toilets are connected to a very powerful piece of infrastructure that can sometimes be unpredictable. In fact, this has been the source of urban legends in the past. Take, for instance, the myth that if you flush every toilet in America at once, the entire water system will explode. It probably would not, but it also wouldn't be pretty? (Fun fact: officials in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city, have asked all residents to flush their toilets simultaneously twice a week to clear out the aging sewer system. No disasters yet.)

So where does this leave our poor injured friend in Brooklyn? Well, he's scared. "I can’t stop thinking about it every time I look at the bowl," Pierre said. He also now flushes his toilet by leaving the bathroom and tugging on a rope that he's tied to the handle. Pierre added that he's at least grateful that he wasn't sitting down on the toilet when he pulled the handle. [NYDN via NYMag via Veronica de Souza]

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Africa Studio