11th Hour Entry for Over-Reaction of the Year

When I was in school, we used to play with this stuff:

It was quite a New Year's Eve at the home of Richard Berger in Carmel - in Putnam County. Someone in the house broke a rectal thermometer and the family called 911 around 10:30 to report the small mercury spill.

Several dozen volunteers from the Carmel Fire Department responded to the house on Brookview Drive.

Fire Chief Darryl Johnson says mercury is a hazardous material that can cause stomach problems if inhaled.

Men wearing protective gear used wet sponges to clean up the puddle.

It was packaged and brought to the Carmel firehouse where the county health department will dispose of it today.

The Berger family was not hurt.

One hundred "first responders" arrived on the scene.


Heh... some of the kids in my class used to "accidentally drop" mercury thermometers during science class in middle school so we could play with the mercury on the ground. The kid-who-tried-too-hard-to-be-cool had an unfortunate habit of breaking the red-dyed alcohol (I think) filled ones, which weren't nearly as cool. Needless to say, Hazmat wasn't involved.

Posted by: AughtSix at January 4, 2007 1:25 PM

Man, when that family gets the bill they're going to feel like that broken thermometer got used on each of them for its original purpose.

Posted by: Venomous Kate at January 4, 2007 6:49 PM

Any party where a rectal thermometer is broken is quite a party!

Posted by: MikeA at January 5, 2007 9:33 AM

That's odd, because even the EPA doesn't consider a mercury spill from a thermometer big enough to require a professional cleanup. It looks as if the local yokels overreacted just a bit...okay, a lot.

Posted by: Captain Holly at January 5, 2007 11:04 AM

I used to crack open thermometers and "silent" light switches and roll the mercury around in the palms of my hands.

I remember once there was an accident on a highway near me and some motor oil spilled. They had the damn hazmat crew out in their yellow suits, with drums of detergent... It was ridiculous.

Posted by: Jeff Soyer at January 5, 2007 3:37 PM

A few years ago I remember hearing on the radio that a thermometer was accidentally broken in the chemistry lab of a local high school, and they evacuated the school. Not the class, but the WHOLE FREAKIN' SCHOOL. A HAZMAT crew was called to clean the few drops of mercury, while countless parents had to leave their jobs early to pick up their contaminated punk kids.

Man, I remember even as recently as 1990 when we also played with the stuff on our desks. As far as I know, none of us died that day.

"The Berger family was not hurt."

I wouldn't be too sure about that. My guess is that SOMEONE was hurt, but didn't want to admit exactly how the thermometer broke.

Posted by: roger at January 17, 2007 3:28 PM
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