MakeShift 14: Jay L. Stern’s Most Plausible Winning Entry
by Lee D. Zlotoff
September 21, 2008
Solution by Jay L. Stern
I notice that on the shelf in the laundry room is a bottle of window cleaner, which contains ammonia, even if there is not otherwise a source of ammonia in the room. Also, sitting on the dryer is a bleach bottle. Assuming that there’s bleach in the bottle, we have no fear of the hoodlums outside. Also, since this is a modern laundry room, the washer is electric. We don’t know if the dryer is gas or electric. So here is what to do:
Unplug the washer and pull off, cut, or otherwise sever the power cord at the washer.
Turn off the water to the washer and disconnect the hoses.
Stomp on the male brass fittings on the ends of each hose to flatten them enough to fit under the door. If the fittings are plastic, break them off.
Strip a few inches of insulation off each of the wires in the power cord. Wrap one bare wire around the door knob and the other around the flattened end of one of the hoses.
A more dangerous alternative is to wrap the bare wires around the end of each hose.
Slip the hoses — several inches apart — under the door, but not extending more than about 1/4″ into the outer room.
Plug the power cord back in.
Pour bleach down one hose; pour ammonia (nee window cleaner) down the other.
The reaction of the ammonia with the bleach will produce chlorine gas and other nasty things. The gas is sure to irritate the thugs. The water mixed in with the ammonia and bleach will form a puddle into which the reaction products (like sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide, etc.) will form. These conduct electricity very well. If the thugs grab the doorknob while standing in the puddle, they will be shocked at your resourcefulness. That, plus the chlorine gas being released, should prompt rapid evacuation.
If you placed both electric wires under the door, then in addition to chlorine gas being released when you mix the ammonia and bleach on the outside of the door, it is possible that explosive nitrogen and chlorine compounds will be formed. If you then shove the hoses — and the wires wrapped around them — together, you will cause a spark that will detonate the compounds. The explosion will surely alert your neighbors. It may even incapacitate the bad guys. You, on the other side of the laundry room door, are reasonably safe.
There is a metal rack next to the washer. Knock it apart, taking the steel upright tube as a weapon. Also, grab a towel or other fabric and soak it in water.
Wrap the wet towel around your face, move the washer away from the door and, holding the steel tube as a club, open the door.
Depending on the circumstances you (a) use the wet towel to minimize chlorine fumes that you could otherwise inhale — they dissolve into the water, (b) use the wet towel to protect you from any flames you encounter, and (c) use the club to bat at any of the bad guys still willing to mount a challenge to your undisputed control of your home.