Domestic Tasks That Took Our Ancestors Out

Technological advancements have never been smooth sailing. There were and still are lots of highs and lows as we continue to move forward in the age of science. In the process, there were a lot of stumbles and accidents, not just for the scientists and inventors but also for the everyday citizens who used these devices. Some of those incidents usually led to irreversible loss. Take a look at five domestic tasks that took out our ancestors in fell swoop.

1. Doing A Bit of Light Ironing

Getting the laundry done during the Victorian era was a lot harder and physically taxing than it should have been. Irons back then were bulky and heavy and you needed different irons of various shapes and sizes to tackle specific issues. To combat this, Henry W. Seely of New York invented the first electric iron. The downside was that it was difficult to regulate the temperature, which led to clothes getting burned and in other cases, whoever was just trying to get some laundry done.

2. Going to the Bathroom

Prior to the Great Stink of 1858, s-bend toilets were very rare and London was pretty much uninhabitable due to the hot weather and stench of its sewage. Contents from toilets were dumped straight into the sewers below and the smells passed through the unimpeded pipes. Decomposing waste produced methane and carbon dioxide, the former being highly flammable. Back then, people had to carry lamps for their nightly trips to the bathroom. Just a single spark and the entire toilet would go kaboom!

3. Setting the Table

In 1902, an inventor by the name of Henry Cooper created a self-illuminating cloth to save customers the trouble of laying down a tablecloth followed by placing the lamp on the table. It consisted of two layers of felt with an electrical circuit that was sandwiched in between, and six electric light bulb sockets poking through the cloth. It seemed good on paper, until someone spilled a liquid all over the table and everyone started scrambling away from the fire.

4. Walking Down the Stairs

Building regulations during the Victorian era were basically non-existent—making your way down the stairs was very tricky due to the steep stairs and very sharp turns. Also, the steps of a single staircase were usually of different heights and widths since there was not a standard unit of measurement at the time. And no one thought of installing handrails. When you take into account all of these factors, it’s easy to see why falling down the stairs was a very common occurrence.

5. Stocking the Fridge

Keeping foods fresh for long periods of time has always been a problem in the old days. The first refrigerator was built in 1834 by American inventor by the name Jacob Perkings but it failed to catch on due to the appliance’s lack of reliability and high price. Then came a more functional refrigerator in the 1890s. It successfully kept food cool but came with a price—the toxic gas methyl chloride was used as a cooling agent. Manufacturing came to an end when a fridge leaked the toxic gas while still inside the factory which leading to immense loss of life.


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