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Bottle Bombs

Monday, March 19, 2012

My son, Paul, is in the Marines, and is stationed in New Orleans, LA. He just sent me this e-mail about bottle bombs. It is sad that it has come to this!

Claim: Plastic soda bottles left in unsuspecting residents' yards may be bottle bombs.

Good morning to you all. I want to make you aware of a recent incident that occurred this morning in York Twp. This type of incident directly affects your safety as well as your children's safety. This morning, at approximately 8:00 am, I was dispatched to an address, on Bemis Rd near the Saline City Limits, for an unexploded pop bottle bomb. When I arrived, I noticed a 20 ounce pop bottle, on the ground, in the callers front yard. After I inspected it closer, I determined that it was in fact a "Works" Bomb. I was able to clear the device away from the house and once I moved it, it detonated itself within 30 seconds. After leaving that house, I checked other yards in the area during my patrols. I located a second one, just a few doors down from the first one. As I took care of the disposal/detonation, the homeowner came out and asked me what it was. When I showed her what it was, she immediately told me that she saw the bottle and that she had planned on picking it up when she got her morning paper. Like the first one, once I moved it, it detonated in short order. There was a high probability that this would have detonated in her hand/face while she carried it to the trash.

A "Works" Bomb is Drain-o and Tin Foil, mixed together inside of a bottle. The chemical reaction between the Drain-o and the Tin Foil makes a volatile build up of gases and subsequently detonates the bottle with a great amount of force. Once the detonation occurs, the chemical substance that is in the bottle is actually boiling liquid.

The amount of force that is generated at the time of the explosion is enough to severe fingers and also deliver 2nd and 3rd degree chemical burns to the victim. The chemicals can possibly cause blindness and the toxic fumes can be harmful.

.........When you are out and about in your yards, please be mindful of these devices. If your picking up your morning paper, or mowing your grass, or if you let your children out to play; whatever your activities are, please use the following precautions.

1) If you find a soda bottle or any other bottles, examine it carefully before you touch it or get near it. If it shows signs of swelling, or melting in any way, DO NOT TOUCH IT! Call 911 and let us respond to take care of it.

2) If you find a soda bottle that has any liquid in it, DO NOT TOUCH IT! Call 911 and let us respond to check it / dispose of it.

Both bombs this morning appeared to be slightly swollen, with a dark colored liquid, inside of it. This liquid could have easily been mistaken for left over soda.

I know that calling 911 for a soda bottle may sound silly or like a misuse of your Police protection but trust me, it is not. You do not want one of these devices detonating in your hand or your children's hands or in your pets face. We are here to incur the danger for you so that you are and your loved ones are not harmed. So please check your yard thoroughly before letting your children out to play and be mindful before you just deem that soda bottle as garbage and pick it up.

In closing, please educate your children on the dangers and consequences of making these devices. It has become popular with the youth in the past few years, to do this as a prank, but there have been some changes to the law. Not only could it be deadly to the maker or the victim, but making one these devices is called, "Possession of a Substance with Explosive Capabilities". If it causes no damage, its a 15 year Felony. If it causes damage, its a 20 year Felony. If it causes physical injury, its a 25 year Felony. If it causes serious injury, the penalty can be "Up to life", and if it causes death, its Mandatory Life without the possibility of Parole. These are statutory guidelines only. These penalties are what could be imposed but it does not necessarily mean that these penalties would be imposed.

Origins: "Bottle bombs" (also commonly known as "Drano bombs" or "works bombs") are not a new phenomenon — they've been a favorite of youthful pranksters for decades now, as their construction requires only a few ordinary, commonly available components: plastic soda bottles, aluminum foil, and Drano (or other similar brand of household toilet cleaner). In general, one need simply push some aluminum foil balls into a plastic bottle, add some Drano, and screw the cap tightly onto the bottle. The combination of Drano and aluminum foil creates a strong chemical reaction which releases a gas; when that gas builds up to sufficient pressure, it ruptures the side of the plastic bottle, releasing the contents in an explosive burst:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • GJCAB09
    I'd heard of the "dry ice" variety, but not this type. A dry ice bomb is dangerous enough if it were to go off in one's hand, I'd hate to be anywhere near one of these things with the scalding chemicals inside! Thanks for the heads up!
    2215 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    Yes, I snoped this one a few years ago..
    in MIchigan where we have a ten cent bottle deposit, I pray for the homeless people who ride their bikes or walk around and use these bottles for food money.
    2258 days ago
    I had seen this Email in the past, and believe me, I watch out for those bottles. Thank goodness haven't seen any in my yard, but we are kind of rural out here. Good to know though, for when you are on the road, and maybe want to pick up some trash.

    Thanks so much for the reminder, and sad that so many people are so sick these days, as to get a thrill out of hurting others. emoticon
    2258 days ago
    That is so scary. The world is a scary place now a days. emoticon
    2258 days ago
    I have seen stories on the news and in the paper about these. Scary! So sad to think that people have nothing better to do than make something that can cause injury to another person. Thanks for sharing this!
    2258 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this, Alan. Hearing stories like this remind me why I'm so thankful to live well away from densely populated places . . . .
    2258 days ago
    Scary :(
    2258 days ago
  • REDSHOES2011
    2258 days ago
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