Urban myths have been going around since, well… forever. Many of the more modern ones like to speak of all the dangers of modern technology, and the modern world in general. Stories will tell of how people can easily find themselves maimed, murdered, or in other danger if they make the wrong choices in life, or mess with the wrong technology too much. While many urban legends are nonsense or overly embellished, there are some warnings out there that are true, and some stories that should be heeded. In today’s article, we will go over 10 urban legends that are at least mostly true, and highlight the sometimes banal dangers of our modern world.
10. You Can Absolutely Lose Limbs In An Escalator, Or Even Get Strangled To Death
Some people like to laugh about and/or tease people who are afraid of escalators, and most people consider it an entirely irrational fear — something silly and not worth being so scared about. However, some people who are afraid of escalators will tell urban legends of times that someone got stuck in an escalator, and got strangled or lost their limbs before someone could press the emergency stop.
Now, we want to be clear that escalators are not moving death machines. They aren’t regularly killing people or tearing their limbs off, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely safe, either. The danger is essentially some part of your clothing (or hair) getting stuck in the escalator. More commonly, when someone does get injured on an escalator, a shoe or pant leg gets trapped and someone loses a foot, but in a rarer case, a man lost his life when his shirt got caught in the escalator and he strangled to death before the emergency stop could be pushed.
9. Hanging Your Head Out A Car Or Train Window Can Be Fatal (But Not By Decapitation)
Many parents and other supervising adults have warned over the years that hanging your head out of a car window (or train window, if you’re especially stupid) can cause you to be decapitated and lose your life in an instant. Some people think this is nonsense, and continue to hang their hand, arm, or whole head out a window; in their minds, they’re just having some fun and not letting the naysayers get them down. They figure that cars, buses and trains don’t really go that close to things, and if they do, they can pull that part of their body back in time. However, it doesn’t always work out like that.
While it doesn’t happen daily, people get their heads smacked while hanging them out of moving windows relatively often, all things considered, and it nearly always result in death if the speed was even remotely significant. Now, decapitation has not been reported in any case (the head always stays attached to the body), but that doesn’t mean the person doesn’t still die due to a head injury.
8. There Is An Even Sadder Reason Many Shelters Don’t Allow Black Cats Adoptions Around Halloween
Many people have heard for years that shelters will not allow adoption of black cats around Halloween, and most people assume that the reason for this is that shelters are afraid that people will harm them in some sort of black magic ritual. However, that kind of thing is fortunately very rare, and not actually the main reason shelters are reluctant to adopt black cats out around the Halloween season. The problem is that people can sometimes be kind of terribly thoughtless about other living creatures, and will adopt black cats to use as part of a prop for a Halloween costume, and then return the cats later when the whole thing is done and all their parties are over.
This is an awful thing to do, as it stresses the cat out, thinking it might be given a good home, and then quickly finds itself back at the awful shelter. Worse yet, someone who just wants it as a prop probably isn’t going to take very good care of it even for the few days they are together. For this reason, many shelters simply suspend adoption of black cats around Halloween, so you will have to find another way to complete your witch costume.
7. Hackers Can Listen To Your Baby And Creep On It With Your WiFi Enabled Baby Monitor
Today, almost everything has technology of some kind involved, and sometimes that extra technology isn’t necessarily a good thing. While baby monitors worked for years without needing an internet connection, recently companies have started selling WiFi enabled baby monitors, which you can track and control from your phone or laptop. Now, this may sound convenient, but it also opens up your little one to hackers. Quite a few parents now have had scary situations where they found that someone was talking to their baby through the monitor, and those people were saying scary things and making scary noises to their child.
Some may fear a more insidious hacking, or specific stalking, but luckily these creeps don’t seem to be going after individuals they know. Instead, they are finding baby monitors online, and using the default password (as most people don’t think to change the password and secure it). They are then having a bit of sociopathic fun with your infant, enjoying the torture that they get to inflict and all the ensuing pain and fear they can cause from a distance. If you want to avoid your little one thinking they are being haunted by a demon, either secure your WiFi-enabled baby monitor with your own, more detailed password, or better yet don’t buy a WiFi-enabled baby monitor at all.
6. Brown Recluse Bites, If Not Properly Treated, Can Sometimes Cause Necrosis
Spider bites are something we all fear, and brown recluse spiders typically tend to bring out that fear more than others. They are known for giving powerful bites that can cause pain and suffering weeks later, and often heal very slowly. Some legends claim that a really bad bite, especially if not properly treated, can lead to something called necrosis. This is a condition where the cell tissue actually starts to blacken and die off. While many brown recluse bites don’t even require medical treatment, you should probably get yours checked out to be on the safe side, because if not properly treated, the legends are true.
Not only can the tissue actually die through necrosis, but you can also end up with hemolysis, where red blood cells start to die off, and renal failure — which is more commonly known in layman’s terms as kidney failure — can occur. Considering that there are about 10,000 spider bites reported per year in the United States, and almost 2,000 of those on average are from the Brown Recluse, it becomes quite a valid fear to watch out for these little monsters, and get checked out if they ever manage to bite you.
5. Sometimes Serial Killers Pretend To Be Police; Sometimes They Are Police
When we want protection from serial killers, murderers or other horrible people, we tend to think of the police as the people who keep us protected and safe. However, the problem is that now and then, a serial killer poses as a policeman, or actually is a policeman. Serial killers have been constantly studied in order to try to figure out the phenomenon, and many saw being a police officer as an ideal job. Murderers like David Berkowitz and Edmund Kemper wanted to be cops, for example.
Ted Bundy, one of the most famous serial killers of all time, never did become a cop, but he posed as one on a fairly regular basis in order to lure in and kidnap his victims. Joseph DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer, worked as a cop for decades, while acting in his capacity as a serial killer in his time off. And the truth is that these are just a few of many, many examples that would really need their own article to list. Now, we aren’t saying there are lots of serial killers in the police, or that they pose as them all the time. After all, there are only a small number of serial killers to begin with. However, it does hold a lot of attraction to them, as it gives them intimate connections to law enforcement, and a lot of personal power they can exercise, often without direct supervision.
4. Cockroaches And Spiders Sometimes Take Up Residence In People’s Ears
Most people have heard the legends that spiders, and even cockroaches, will sometimes take up residence inside our bodies. Some people even believe in rumors that we will eat several spiders in our lifetime, although most scientists say that is misleading. Regardless, many people don’t really believe that insects like our bodies that much, and especially don’t believe in the stories that they will live in some people’s ears; however, it is actually a relatively common occurrence.
Both spiders and cockroaches like warm, damp places where they feel they can safely hide, and the ear of a sleeping person sometimes fits that bill really nicely. Because we don’t regularly expel things from our ears (unlike our noses), it makes a more secure, safe place to hide. While it isn’t an everyday occurrence, hospitals are no stranger to removing bugs from ear canals. Now, this doesn’t mean it will happen to you. Likely, if you have enough insects around that the best place they can find to stay is your ear, you should probably start looking for a really good exterminator.
3. Rabies Can Be Be Very Hard To Catch In Time, Making It A Silent Killer
Rabies only kills about 50 people per year, so it isn’t particularly terrifying, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be scared of it anyway — at least enough to take it seriously. The fact of the matter is that so few deaths occur because we have a good vaccine and people tend to utilize an abundance of caution, but sometimes they don’t, and it’s a fatal mistake. Rabies, sometimes compared to zombie viruses, spreads almost entirely by bites, and from animal to human. It can make the person rage, act erratic, and foam at the mouth, and can also cause paralysis.
However, what makes it terrifying is that it can be such a silent killer. Those who die usually don’t see symptoms right away after an animal bite — such as from a cat, dog or bat — and thus think they are fine and don’t get the rabies vaccine administered shortly after the bite. This is a huge mistake, because the vaccine can get started right away, but rabies can incubate and not show symptoms for up to a year. Usually by the time it starts showing the symptoms, it is too late, and the person will develop hydrophobia (fear of water, even drinking it), and will die of inflammation of the brain very shortly. Only one person survived the later stages of rabies, by being put into an induced coma until the virus could be put under control.
2. A Woman Did Indeed Die Holding Her Pee For A Wii
There is a legend that a woman was doing a radio contest in order to attempt to win a Nintendo Wii back when it was first out (and you sometimes couldn’t even find it in the store) for her young children. This was in 2007, and the radio station had a contest going where people drank a lot of water, and then saw who could hold their pee the longest. The winner, of course, would get a brand new Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately, the contest took a very dark turn, as not only did this woman only barely win second place — which did not get her the Wii — but she died shortly after from water intoxication.
And, unfortunately, everything about the story is true. Despite the on-air host talking about the dangers of drinking too much water, and a listener calling in to tell them it was potentially dangerous, they went ahead with the contest anyway. Because of this, the jury decided to award the woman’s family $16 million in compensation. Ten of the radio station employees were fired, and the station itself did not even appeal the verdict, as they felt the family had gone through quite enough already.
1. An American Couple Adopts A Ukrainian Girl Who Is Much Older Than They Thought
This story out of Lafayette, Indiana is completely bizarre, and it may be years, if ever, before we know the real truth. Even if much of the story is muddled or untrue, the parts we do know are true are still far stranger than anything someone could make up. Back at the beginning of the decade, an Indiana couple adopted a young girl out of Ukraine — who was supposed to be eight years old — to live with their family that included three boys. Things seemed to go well at first, until — as the mother alleges — the new daughter was seen pouring cleaning chemicals into her coffee, and told her point blank, in an adult manner, that she was going to kill the whole family.
At this point, the couple took her to a hospital and a mental health crisis center, as they were worried about the state of her mental state. They claimed that they learned she had dwarfism, and was a lot older than she was. They took her to one hospital, which claimed that while she was older than initially thought, she was still a tween. However, the couple managed to have her legal age changed to about 30, with the approval of a judge who clearly believed that she was an adult with dwarfism.
However, the authorities also found later that they left her in the United States while the rest of the family left for Canada, and they continued to pay only for her rent. Some people felt the parents were running away from her, and some accounts suggest that even if she was a lot older than suggested, she was still a minor when they left, which would make it child abandonment. The parents are being charged with a crime over the whole debacle, but contend that they were still trying to help her from a distance, and believed her to be a legal adult when they left for Canada. They also insist they were not running away. It may be a long time, if ever, before court discovery shows us the full truth.
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