Aficionados of the cult TV series, New Tricks, might remember the episode when a serial arsonist uses a condom as a makeshift timing device to start fires. A condom suspended over a candle and filled with an accelerant eventually burnt through and created a mini-explosion setting fire to the property and leaving no other trace than some small pieces of candle wax allowing the perpetrator to escape well before the fire started. The latex itself seems to contribute to the conflagration and some people routinely use condoms to start bonfires.
As an arsonist’s tool, this is perhaps a more exotic use of the humble condom but in fact, this simple piece of latex has been press-ganged into numerous other more innocuous roles. A condom can be a useful emergency waterproof covering for a phone or an expensive watch. For these purposes, it is better to have condoms without lube but of course, you may not have been thinking along those particular lines when you bought them. As a failsafe grip device when the human hand is just not sufficient, condoms have also been used to help open tight jars or seals – the extra grip of the latex without moisture from the human hand seems to work every time.
Joking aside, condoms can be used in an emergency to carry and store water, most will hold anything up to two litres. That could help you out in a crisis and on the subject of that, did you know the American GIs used condoms to cover their rifle barrels in World War II, to keep the guns dry and clean and prevent sand from entering the moving parts? The Ministry of Defence ordered half a million camouflage coloured condoms to be sent out to Saudi at the end of the last century for exactly the same purpose.
It’s all about when needs must. Football mad children in Mozambique use condoms to make a free soccer ball, easy to do as condoms are readily available for no cost at family planning clinics and they are often handed out to women who pass them onto their children. This is for fear their husbands might discover the condoms in their bags.
The children put several condoms over one another, fill them with air, encase the whole thing in a sort of raffia basket and then cover the ball with rags. This resultant ball is amazingly sturdy but soft, light and easy to kick, propelling well through the air. Local groups working to raise the awareness of HIV/Aids are frustrated at the use of condoms in this way because actually, their free distribution is to raise awareness of a much more serious message. There is also the risk that if the children are denied access to free, new condoms, they will scavenge amongst rubbish dumps and run the risk of finding a used condom with all the disease risk this may entail.
There is no doubt that condoms can help you out when you are in a tight spot, in more ways than one.