11. Lilacs, Onions, or Mustard
From modern warfare, back to the consequences of war in times gone by. During the First World War, and even up to more modern conflicts, mustard gas was used to attack the troops. It was certainly possible that you would be able to survive contact with it, but only if you were incredibly lucky– and all the same, you would suffer from the symptoms for life. It causes large blisters on the skin and lungs, and can basically melt your face off if you don’t have protection from it, such as a gas mask. It can burn your whole body and cause blindness, and in these cases death was often a kinder fate. Those who have managed to survive a mustard gas attack have described the smell very clearly. Some say it smells like lilacs while others say onions. Some also say mustard, which is not surprising given the name.
If you are ever caught in a house fire– which will hopefully not be the case– then you might find that the smell of smoke is your first warning sign. If you do sense smoke then your best bet is to get out of there as soon as possible and call for help. Smoke inhalation can actually be more deadly than the fire itself, killing you before the flames reach you. Smoke will give you a very scratchy throat and could have long-lasting effects even if you do make it out in time. In most cases, the lack of oxygen simply knocks you out so that you don’t have a chance to escape. This is most common in nightly house fires, when the sleeping occupants never wake up to discover the flames. If you can smell smoke and it’s only because you are smoking a cigarette, don’t imagine that you are safe– aside from being one of the leading causes of house fires, cigarettes will give you cancer sooner or later.