May 12, 2024 at 12:35 pm

Somebody Invented A “Toilet Snorkel” That Could Saved Your Life During Fires

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

We’ve all hugged a toilet at least a few times in our lives, and vowed never to do it again.

What if I told you your toilet could save your life, though?

Or at least, that’s what people used to think.

This 1981 patent proposes that a water trap inside a basin could help a person trapped in a room with smoke fumes or toxic gas access to fresh air.

At least, it would keep you alive long enough until help arrived.

William O. Holmes was inspired to invent the toilet snorkel after a rash of hotel fires in the early 1970s, in which many lives were lost due to smoke inhalation.

Morbid fact: more people die from smoke inhalation than burns when it comes to building fires.

People trapped become quickly deprived of oxygen, since the fire consumes it quickly. Many pass out and die while trying to make it to an exit.

So, what does all of this have to do with a toilet?

Source: US Patents

Toilet basins are have a water trap that prevents the hole in your toilet from letter sewer gases up into your home. This stops unpleasant smells – and Holmes figured this would include smoke.

His idea was to thread a snorkel through the water trap in order to access the clean air on the other side.

You would have to flush the toilet before using it, so you wouldn’t be inhaling sewer gas, but after that, Holmes figured you would be golden.

“It is common practice to attach a fresh-air vent in the form of a pipe or stack to the sewer line to provide optimum  operation of the toilet. The air vent normally extends upwardly through the roof of a structure, such as a high-rise hotel, to expose it to ambient fresh air.”

The design, he believed, would work in his favor.

“The air vent will further function to expel sewer gases to ambient and release any back pressures on the toilet so that it does not gurgle when drained and waste products do not back up, particularly into lower floor toilets when upper floor toilets are flushed.”

Source: US Patents

His design also includes a filter meant to absorb noxious gases and toxic impurities that remain in the sewer air pipe.

Listen, I’m guessing you can figure out why this didn’t catch on.

But if I was in a fire, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t care where my fresh air came from.

If you thought that was interesting, you might like to read about why we should be worried about the leak in the bottom of the ocean.