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Are the Warnings of Plastic "Bottle Bombs" True?

Updated on March 12, 2012
Are "bottle bombs" real?
Are "bottle bombs" real?

Are reports of homade chemical "bottle bombs" really true?

Have you seen the Warnings?

You may have seen the emails floating around the net warning of bombs made from plastics bottles. The email indicates there has been a rash of yard bombs comprised of a plastic 2-liter bottle and common household chemicals. The warning further indicates that should you find a plastic bottle in your yard with liquid inside, you should leave it and immediately call the police to properly deal with the potential explosive.

Is this an Urban Legend?

If you are like me, you would certainly take such warnings with a grain of salt. The notion of chemical bombs in plastic bottle seems a bit outrageous, and sounds like a typical urban myth. However, In this case, it appears to be absolutely factual. Indeed, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department sent a warning email in April 2010, warning residents of the danger posed by these homemade explosives after finding two such concoctions in York Township Michigan. Other police departments have also provided warnings after finding similar devices. The indication is that these explosives are capable of significant damage. In Massachusetts police reported 2 such devices actually blowing up mailboxes. The combination of the explosion and the potential for chemical burns make these devices particularly troublesome. While these bombs may be the work of young troublemakers, they are no less dangerous. Further, if youngsters are indeed responsible, they are putting themselves in tremendous danger as in preparing these devices.

What is the Proper Response?

Now that we are aware of the danger, it is important to take it into the proper context. First, these events have been isolated to this point. Therefore, it is probably not necessary that you call the police every time you see a plastic bottle with liquid inside in your yard. More often than not, you are simply dealing with litter. However, you should at least understand the potential and react accordingly. Further, you should be especially cautious should you find a plastic bottle “device” in your mailbox particularly if you see aluminum foil inside. In that circumstance, you should simply stay clear, and let the authorities know what you have found.

Communicate with Kids

As importantly, it is incumbent upon us all to be sure and let kids know the dangers of preparing these devices. With YouTube, and the Internet in general, children will certainly have access to the recipe (I have intentionally chosen to leave it off of this hub), and as a result, their curiosity could have devastating results. Let your children know the dangers, as well as the significant legal consequences of creating a “bottle bomb.” This is an obvious case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


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