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LilliCray
08-05-2010, 08:53 AM
Does anyone know of any sort of situation in which having one's hair cut might save one's life?

Elaboration:

The character has, at first, hair that reaches approximately halfway down her back, but it is cut to approximately top-of-the-neck length, after which she needs to get into a situation where her long hair would have caused her death.

Like, an accident or something. Preferably involving a city train. This probably occurs in the Portland, Oregon area. The situation could be a completely freak accident or whatnot.

I tried searching Google for real-life incidents, but couldn't find anything not involving cancer. (My Google-fu sucks...) If you know of a real-life incident, that would help.

Yes. It's a weird concept. I seem to be specializing in weird lately. :D

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to offer!

Shakesbear
08-05-2010, 09:03 AM
hair that reaches approximately halfway down her back is not that long - and would be shorter if plaited. I was thinking of hair getting caught in or on something that would drag her along - like a train door. The first thing that did spring to mind was an old fashioned mangle. When I was at college we had to make soft sculptures and one of the students made hers of a mangle which she had found in the college grounds. It was moved into the art studio for her. One day we she was messing about with it and one of her plaits, which reached below her waist, got caught in the mechanism. We did get her free, but she lost about six inches/15cms of her hair.

SouthernFriedJulie
08-05-2010, 09:23 AM
I'm not sure how train doors work, but it could be possible for her hair to be caught in the doors as they are closed. While the train is starting to pull away, she would be dragged along. Maybe a bystander could come to her rescue with a pocketknife or something?

I just cut my hair and it was about the length you describe. It has been caught in everything from windows to doors. A former co-worker had hair so long that she could sit on the braid. We worked in a nursing home and she had been caught in a patient transfer lift once. Almost broke her neck, but I can't remember if the lift fell over or if the lifting was what came close to breaking it.

debirlfan
08-05-2010, 09:41 AM
If I remember correctly, about a thousand years ago when I was in high school, a girl putting up decorations or something similar got her hair caught in an electric drill and pulled a bunch of hair out.

I'm thinking a turning mechanism would be easier to get hung up in rather than something like a door - I've heard of people getting clothes and even body parts hung up in farm equipment or wood chippers and getting pulled in - I would imagine that long thick hair could do the same.

Rammstein
08-05-2010, 11:14 AM
The character has, at first, hair that reaches approximately halfway down her back, but it is cut to approximately top-of-the-neck length, after which she needs to get into a situation where her long hair would have caused her death.

So you mean that she doesn't have a freak accident because she cut her hair earlier that day (or something?). And she'd actually realize that?

Hmmm... that would have to be one obvious near-accident. I mean, she could have been killed if she had worn a coat and it got stuck in the train doors - but would she really be thinking about it if she put a short jacket on instead and went about her business?

What I'm thinking is, how the accident itself occurs is not nearly as important as her reacting instinctively to the fact that her hair is about to kill her - maybe jerks her head back real fast, scared out of her wits, and then she realizes - it's not there anymore because she cut it the same day and she just forgot about it for a second or two...

Nivarion
08-05-2010, 11:17 AM
well, what settings is the character exposed to? There are a lot of things like this.

The problem being is that no one acknowledges an accident that didn't happen, unless it came very close to happening.

The closes thing I can think of would be if she ended up dangling over a wood chipper's hopper. The kind with the strong teeth that pull stuff into them.

SF4-EVER
08-05-2010, 06:52 PM
Does it need to be an accident? If not -- say, someone else wanted to kill her -- then it's possible that changing her hair length would cause someone else to fail to recognize her. Depending on how she was dressed, she might even be able to disguise herself as a man instead of a woman.

If that's too far off from what you have in mind, feel free to ignore it. I just thought that it would be worth suggesting some different ideas.

RJK
08-05-2010, 07:35 PM
Back in the day, there was a young girl with long hair in a bar. She walked too close to a 24 inch floor fan and her hair got sucked in. it pulled her right in to the grill of the fan, then started ripping the hair out of her scalp. someone sober enough hearing her screams yanked the plug out of the fan, but by that time she had a bald spot about two inched in diameter.

I heard the bar settled for a big wad of cash. and they scrapped the fans and bought central A/C.

cbenoi1
08-05-2010, 07:37 PM
Escalators.
Boat propellers.

-cb

Chase
08-05-2010, 09:13 PM
I'm in rainy Oregon, too.

What about Portland's incident-prone Tri-Met busses? Seems to me that either a driver or a passenger periodically makes the news with some zany antic. Some quite lethal.

With Nivarion's caveat in mind, you could have your recently shorn protagonist become embroiled in an altercation with a crazy rider. She gets off the bus in self-defense. The antagonistic rider could snatch a handful of short hair as the driver closes the doors, maybe while he listens to Mark 'n' Dave on his ear buds. Anyway, he drives away unconcerned, and your heroine is only just able to pull free. If she'd not cut her hair that morning, she could have been thrown under the bus (so to speak).

Anyway, some idea like that?

blackrose602
08-05-2010, 09:21 PM
Something with fire, perhaps? My former roommate earned the nickname "Blaze" when her long, thick hair met an untimely end in a candle flame. My mom also caught hers on fire, though fortunately with minimal damage. A candle wouldn't normally be near-deadly, nor would it be found in a train station, but maybe there could be some sort of electrical fire or trash can fire?

My mom was prone to rolling hers up in car windows, including one time when she was driving and managed to get it caught in the rear passenger window (it was long enough to sit on at the time, and twice as thick as most people's). She nearly got scalped once when it got completely tangled up in an automatic seat belt mechanism.

Think automatic systems of any type, and consider adding a gust of wind. Wind will send long hair flying into anything and everything nearby, and her first reaction would probably be pretty major.

LilliCray
08-06-2010, 05:08 AM
Ah! Thanks so much for all the help. Some fascinating ideas in here. :D

I think I can work with the caught-in-train-door scenario, particularly with the antagonistic rider suggestion. Yes... this will work.

Thanks, guys! Wonderful to be able to count on AW for help with those weird research questions. ;)

rhymegirl
08-06-2010, 05:21 AM
Something with fire, perhaps? My former roommate earned the nickname "Blaze" when her long, thick hair met an untimely end in a candle flame. My mom also caught hers on fire, though fortunately with minimal damage. A candle wouldn't normally be near-deadly, nor would it be found in a train station, but maybe there could be some sort of electrical fire or trash can fire?

Yeah, I was going to say something with fire.

I used to have a gas stove. I have long hair. If a person with long hair is cooking, and leans down too much over a pot, she might possibly get her hair inside the flame on the front burner.

katiemac
08-06-2010, 06:37 AM
I think I remember hearing a story about a roller coaster... although this may have been before the normal safety precautions. I can't remember what her hair caught on, though.

Canotila
08-06-2010, 10:39 AM
I'm in rainy Oregon, too.

What about Portland's incident-prone Tri-Met busses? Seems to me that either a driver or a passenger periodically makes the news with some zany antic. Some quite lethal.

With Nivarion's caveat in mind, you could have your recently shorn protagonist become embroiled in an altercation with a crazy rider. She gets off the bus in self-defense. The antagonistic rider could snatch a handful of short hair as the driver closes the doors, maybe while he listens to Mark 'n' Dave on his ear buds. Anyway, he drives away unconcerned, and your heroine is only just able to pull free. If she'd not cut her hair that morning, she could have been thrown under the bus (so to speak).

Anyway, some idea like that?

Oh man....the MAX....my friends and I have had sooo many experiences with the characters riding Portland's public transit that don't even sound real. Have you ever ridden with that dude who has magic fingers? He times his hand movements to the forward motion of the bus and says, "Can you feeeeeel it?" as if he's the one making the bus move.

The idea of an antagonistic rider sounds the best to me. And you'll get bonus points from any readers who are Portland natives for acknowledging how insane some of the transit passengers are.

You can also make up pretty much any scenario and it would be plausible. Like, the crazy dude sitting behind her set her hair on fire because he was trying to save her from some leprechauns hiding in it. Or grabbed it as she went out the door. Or whatever.

Fern
08-06-2010, 07:30 PM
Way back when wringer washers were used, there were deaths from women with long hair getting caught in the wringer and it would pull their hair through - end up breaking their neck. For modern day, maybe have her in a museum with working exhibits?

I have seen women with long hair lean back on counters - hair swinging around and candles burning nearby. Freaks me out - I've seen it more than once.

shaldna
08-06-2010, 08:11 PM
When my hair was long I got it caught in a guys button as he got out of a lift and I got in. Needless to say that was painful.

Hallen
08-06-2010, 11:32 PM
Way back when wringer washers were used, there were deaths from women with long hair getting caught in the wringer and it would pull their hair through - end up breaking their neck. For modern day, maybe have her in a museum with working exhibits?


Often referred to as a Mangle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangle_%28machine%29). My best buddy in college had a deformed hand because he got it stuck in a heated mangle when he was a child. The burns were the worst part requiring multiple skin grafts.

Yeah, the whole Max thing in Portland gives you endless variety from inattentive drivers, whacked riders, and careless bikers.

ChimeraCreative
08-06-2010, 11:42 PM
My long hair used to get snagged in bolts around the school bus windows. Occasionally I would have a car window rolled up and catch my hair. Most embarrassingly, it once got caught in the zipper of a guy brushing past my chair. It was... uncomfortable to extricate myself from that situation. >.<

Gugland
08-07-2010, 01:37 AM
I used to live - and work - on SE Hawthorne. I remember the lanes were narrow, and the traffic was fast, especially the busses. And the shoulders were just wide enough to park, but nothing more. On more than one occasion I saw someone's car door bent forward because they had it slightly open and a car or bus hit it.

So if her hair got caught when she closed her door, an oncoming bus would certainly take her out. But, I guess there's no way to show how that -almost-but-not happening because she has short hair.

Griesmeel
08-07-2010, 06:08 AM
Just a tidbit from my own experience.
I did a year long apprenticeship in the merchant marine. I let my hair grow that year and it was shoulder length by the time I was done. Specifically the engineers I worked with were concerned I would get it caught in something. The aforementioned electric drill is one thing but an industrial lathe will pack a bit more punch, pun intended. :)

Maybe have an engineer point out how lucky she was having short hair might help to negate the weirdness a bit.

I second all of the the above in then fact that rotating machinery is more hazardous. I'd be interested in the construction and accessibility of doorhinges on Portland public transport.

mtrenteseau
08-07-2010, 07:03 AM
My first thought was in a completely different direction...

Gracie ran her fingers through the young woman's hair.
"How much are you thinking of taking off?" Gracie asked.
"I'm going in a completely different direction," she replied. "I want it very short."

[brief pitch for donating to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for cancer patients]

Gracie started fastening rubber bands, so the hair would be in neat bundles when she cut it off. As she lifted the final few inches to start on the actual styling, she paused.

"How long have you had that mole on the back of your neck?" she asked.

I could also see your character doing something, then someone with long hair doing the same thing and getting injured.

Guardian
08-07-2010, 07:24 AM
Lots of good ideas. I just wanted to add that if you wanted to show that the long hair would have been terrible, you could have your character wearing a scarf. Maybe it's not cold but lots of people find light scarves fashionable so long as it isn't blistering hot. The scarf could even choke her but she manages to get it off before anything truly terrible happens. If it had been hair, on the other hand, that mess would still be attached to her head. There ye have it. :)

debirlfan
08-07-2010, 09:15 AM
My suggestion would be that she gets her shorter (perhaps shoulder length) hair caught in something that rotates - perhaps tearing a clump of it, or just barely managing to pull free. She then realizes that if her hair had been long and thick, she wouldn't have been able to get free and it would have pulled her in.

Oh - and someone suggested getting her hair in a flame? I'm not sure how well hair will actually burn. The question of whether dreadlocks would catch flame came up recently on another discussion board I'm on, and one of the members who has dreads helpfully cut off a piece a few inches long and tried it. Supposedly they charred, but didn't really burn. Not sure if that would apply to "regular" hair. Of course, if the individual had a lot of spray or other product in their hair, then all bets would be off.

Fern
08-07-2010, 06:15 PM
She could get it caught in something and a quick thinking bystander cut it loose with a pocketknife. Don't know about where you are, but where I'm from most men carry a knife in their pocket.

LilliCray
08-07-2010, 07:22 PM
Holy cow! Lots of really great suggestions here. Thanks for all the help, guys!

Crazy TriMet riders, I think, are going to be involved in whatever I end up doing. The scarf idea of Guardian's sounds like it could work very well, too!

Thanks again, everyone!

Gugland
08-08-2010, 07:42 AM
I've had long hair since my teens. At one point it was past my waist. About that time, I worked in a REALLY dangerous sheet-metal fabrication plant, so what Griesmeel and debirlfan say is very realistic - anything that rotates is bad. Not only do fast rotating "whirring" things have fast-rotating parts, but they often create their own wind -kind of like a fire- that sucks your hair in. The damage isn't always having your hair ripped out, but rather having your head sucked in to a machine that slices and dices stuff like .20gauge sheet metal.

Oh, and @ Guardian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isadora_Duncan#Death

mtrenteseau
08-09-2010, 08:08 AM
Oh - and someone suggested getting her hair in a flame? I'm not sure how well hair will actually burn.

From my experience, hair gets singed - it will burn right where the flame was applied, but it won't spread.

Scarves can be even worse than long hair, as they're wrapped around your neck. The famous dancer Isadora Duncan was killed when her scarf was caught on the rear axle of a roadster she was in.

LauraAnnSwanson
08-09-2010, 08:17 AM
I was thinking the same thing as Guardian... but with a coat with a hood. As *insert whatever situation you were thinking of* happens, the train door/mangle/electric drill/fan/whatevs catches and rips the hood from her head, and she barely manages to wrestle herself free from the coat, thinking how fortunate she was that she no longer had that extra two feet of hair...

Maryn
08-09-2010, 05:08 PM
Mr. Maryn works for a legal publisher. When he was new to the job, his area of specialty was products liability. There's a huge body of case law in which lawsuits were brought after someone's long hair has gotten caught in various machinery. Most often operators should have been wearing a hair net and/or have disabled safety features which slowed down production.

Anyway, all kinds of machines and equipment can pull the long-haired person in. The lucky ones are completely scalped and get skin grafts from buttocks and thighs, and wear a wig for the rest of their lives. The others have no 'rest of their lives.'

Almost anything with a conveyor belt, an escalator, a rotating wheel, exposed gears, an arm that bobs up and down, or moving chains can catch hair, and of course the faster the moving parts move, the less possible it is to stop it in time.

FWIW, I doubt even a large and surgically sharp knife or scissors could cut through enough of the hair fast enough to stop this from happening, whether it's loose or braided.

Maryn, with hair down to there

Torgo
08-09-2010, 06:06 PM
It's a well-known story (true? not sure) that Veronica Lake was encouraged to change her much-copied hairstyle during WWII following a spate of hair-related accidents among women working in factories.

I can imagine it would be dangerous to get your hair stuck in a machine but I can't see it actually being deadly - would it not rip out before it hauled you to your doom inside some sort of mangler? I could see something like getting hair stuck in some sort of swimming-pool pipe that might trap you underwater (I am trying very hard not to think of that Chuck Palanhiuk story.)