Over the past several years, many people have received forwarded emails from friends, warning about incidents of bottle bombs left in people’s yards that explode when the bottles are picked up. The bombs are made from plastic soda bottles and filled with liquid. Many unsuspecting victims, thinking the bottle is just trash, pick it up. That movement causes the bomb to explode. What starts out as a teen-age prank can end with an explosion severe enough to cause second- or third-degree burns, loss of limbs, blindness or loss of hearing.
There are hundreds of videos on the internet that give instructions on how to make a bottle bomb, using every day household products – Drano, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, tin foil and dry ice – and more. After placing the selected ingredients in a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, a gas begins to appear. The gas then explodes through the bottles weakest area, typically the neck of the bottle. The bigger the bottle means the bigger the explosion.
Recently, two bottle bombs exploded at Ferris High School, in Spokane WA. The first bomb exploded shortly after 8:30 a.m. in a restroom in one of the buildings of the school. A custodian received skin irritation while cleaning up the chemicals and some students had respiratory problems from breathing the fumes. Students were evacuated from that building. Once the area was cleaned, students were allowed back in.
At 11:15 a.m., another bomb exploded, this time in the school commons eating area. With a second bomb detonating, the decision was made to evacuate the entire campus of the school. Police officers and firefighters swept through the school, checking every classroom and hallway for other devices. A teen suspect was identified and confessed to the incident.
Although bottle bomb incidents are isolated, it’s important for people to be aware of the potential dangers. Emergency Film Group offers Sulfuric Acid and Hydrochloric Acid a safety training program about the hazards of acids and safe response to incidents. It is part of our HazChem Series. The film is available in DVD and online as both an online course and for Video on Demand. To learn more, read here. . .