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Seriously, don't stick a knife in your toaster

My husband says it's an old wife's tale when I tell him he shouldn't fish his muffin out of the toaster with a knife because he'll electrocute himself. I think it's dangerous — but what do you all think?

— Katherine, Medford

Well, for starters, Katherine, we think it's probably not too wise of him to refer to one of your comments as "an old wife's tale." Just saying.

But on to the serious — and potentially shocking — business at hand. From our searches through the bowels of this new-fangled gadget called the Internet, we discovered that sticking a knife into a toaster can indeed be dangerous, although we found no references of fatalities associated with it.

The most complete answer we found came from straightdope.com, which in part offered this to an inquiring, but maybe-not-too-bright mind: "Luckily, owing to generations of mopes sticking knives into toasters, appliances and house wiring now have safety features built into them to protect guys like you from yourself."

Mr. Straightdope cautions, however: "If the toaster has a polarized plug and if the outlet it's plugged into is wired correctly and if the toaster designer put the switch on the hot line (the standard practice), then the risk is small. But I still wouldn't recommend it. You might slip and accidentally hit the lever and energize the heating elements. You're also taking the chance that those who installed key elements of the system were as carefree about risk as you are."

Of course, Mr. Straightdope may be giving males too much credit, because his answer implies the toaster is actually off when the knife is inserted. Where's the fun in that?

In our Internet search, we saw one toaster explode when a young (need we say it?) man deliberately stuck a knife deep into a toaster's insides. He appeared to be intentionally tempting fate, which apparently is a condition that comes with his gender. However, we also have an editor here at Since You Asked World Headquarters who confesses that she (yes, she!) received an electrical shock as a youngster when she inserted a utensil into her family's toaster.

If you must fish out your toasted muffin with a metal instrument, probably best to unplug the toaster first, using caution not to damage the toaster in the process and potentially create a future hazard. Not as much fun, guys, we know, but better for both you and the toaster.

—Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.