How to Survive the Traps of Home Alone

Could you survive a paint can smashing your face at 32 km/h (20 mph)? How about a blow torch to the head? Or an iron to the skull? These are just some of the sadistic traps that make up the massively popular holiday film “Home Alone”.

And today, we’re putting them to the test. If these traps existed in real life, would they still result in hillarious slapstick or would they leave a trail of bodies? Home Alone was a massive success when it was released in 1990.

It spent 12 weeks as the number 1 movie and made over $470 million worldwide. Audiences could not get enough of seeing eight-year-old Kevin torture the burglars that tried to rob his family home. But they also couldn’t help but think, “how many of these traps would realistically kill the burglars? Would a helmet be enough to keep them safe? And why should they have been vaccinated before entering the house?

Let’s take a look at the movie’s top five traps and see how the burglars could have survived them without Hollywood’s help.

Trap 1: Paint Can to the Face

In this scene, Kevin launches paint cans from the top of his stairs towards burglars Marv and Harry, causing them to fall backwards down the stairs. An average paint can weighs about 6 kg (13 lb). If you throw it off a second story staircase, it will travel at 32 km/h (20 mph). It would hit the burglars’ faces with a force of about 12 kN. That’s twice as much as getting punched by boxing champ Mike Tyson.

And it would be six times more force than needed to break your nose. Obviously, the easiest way to save yourself here would be to just move out of the way. But it’s not like you’d have much time to react. So you’d probably be better off just entering the house with a hockey helmet and a mouthguard. That might protect your face from some of the damage.

Trap 2: Two-Story Iron Drop

Burglar Marv is under a laundry shoot and pulls an iron down. This would cause second-degree burns if the iron were hot. It could also fracture Marv’s face and cervical spine or even break his neck and kill him. Again, the ideal strategy would be to get out of the way, but a helmet would have protected Marv from the damage of a falling 4.5 kg (10 lb) object and getting burned. And it could help protect him from injuries if he fell backward and hit his head on the ground.

Trap 3: Blow Torch to the Top of the Head

Burglar Harry walks through the kitchen door and activates the blow torch trap, so it directs its flame onto his head. He stands there for several seconds, then runs back outside and shoves his head in the snow.
The heat from a blowtorch is around 2,200 °C (4,000 °F). According to burn experts, it would take less than one second to get a third-degree burn. In just 2-3 seconds, it would burn through the skin to the bone.

Then, the burglar endured eight more seconds of flame on his head. His skull would protect his brain so he wouldn’t necessarily die, but he would need his skull reconstructed to replace the burned area. To survive this trap, it would be essential to protect Harry’s head. And it would definitely help to be wearing a flame-resistant material.

He did a good thing by going out into the snow to put out the fire, but he certainly would have had more damage than we saw in the movie. He would have needed medical care immediately for the burn.

Trap 4: Stepping Barefoot on a Nail

Poor barefooted Marv. While walking up the basement stairs, he stepped in tar and on a nail. While the nail wouldn’t kill him, tetanus in the puncture wound could. The best way he could have survived this is to be up-to-date on his tetanus vaccination. And boots with steel toe protection would help.

Trap 5: Falling From a Treehouse

While Kevin is hiding in his treehouse, the burglars hang from a line between the house and the treehouse.
Kevin cuts the line, causing them to swing back towards the house and smash into a brick wall. That would likely fracture their humerus bones and dislocate their shoulders. If they weren’t too high up from the ground, the best way to survive this would be to let go of the rope and fall onto the snow.

If they broke their fall by rolling a bit, they would not have as much damage to their bodies as slamming into a brick wall. So there you have it. If this movie were realistic, Harry and Marv would be long dead. All because they picked the wrong house to break into.

Am I the only one who thinks there is something seriously wrong with this Kevin kid? He seems like more of a character from a horror movie than a family film. You’d probably have a better chance at surviving an iconic slasher than you would this ruthless rascal.

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