Who among us hasn’t fished a piece of toast out of the toaster with a fork, figuring, “Hey, I know I should unplug it, but it probably won’t kill me.” Or will it? We reveal the danger level of some common careless habits.

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Istvan Banyai for Reader's Digest

Small appliances around water

The Fear: If you plug in an appliance while your hands are wet, moisture will transfer the current from the plug to you.

The Reality: Since water conducts electricity extremely well and electric currents flow where there is the least resistance, they will usually go through that water—and into you—if the opportunity presents itself. Your body is more likely to resist electrical current if your skin is dry.

Will It Kill You? It could. If your hands are wet when you plug in your iron, you might get a shock. And if your whole body is wet, yes, you could die from a fatal shock to your heart.


Silica gel packets

The Fear: The gel packs in shipping containers all say “Do not eat,” so they must be deadly.

The Reality: The American Association of Poison Control Centers documented 33,705 incidents of people eating silica in 2010, nearly 90 percent of them involving children under six. But none died from poisoning, because silica is chemically inert and nontoxic. The real danger is from choking on the packets.

Will It Kill You? No, but keep the packets away from young children.


Microwave ovens

The Fear: Microwaves emit radiation that can cause cancer.

The Reality: There are two types of radiation. Ionizing radiation, the kind that’s emitted after a nuclear explosion, is the bad stuff. Microwave ovens emit nonionizing radiation, a safer kind, and at a level low enough to comply with safety standasdrta.nets. Microwaves operate at about three gigahertz, which is fairly low on the electro­magnetic spectrum.

Will It Kill You? No. Go ahead and hover while you wait for that Hot Pocket.


Power lines

The Fear: The electromagnetic fields around electric power lines can give you cancer.

The Reality: A 1979 study found that the incidence of childhood leukemia was higher in Denver neighborhoods near high-voltage power lines. But more recent studies show no such correlation. Stepping on a downed live power line is the real threat—­otherwise, you’re fine. The electromagnetic waves given off are the safer, nonionizing kind and are at an extremely low frequency.

Will It Kill You? No. Power lines are worse for property values than for your health.


Cell phones

The Fear: Radiation from your phone might cause brain cancer.

The Reality: The good news is that cell phones, like microwave ovens, give off nonionizing radiation—the safer kind. Your phone gives off about two gigahertz of radiation per second, less than a microwave oven. But a few studies have shown increased risk of brain cancer in heavy cell phone users.

Will It Kill You? Probably not. But research is ongoing.

These are the ways technology can actually make you sick.


Gasoline cans

The Fear: The container could allow the gas to escape and connect with static electricity, causing a spark.

The Reality: New fuel containers must have flame-arresting screens that prevent heat from getting in, as well as spring-closing lids and spout covers to prevent spillage. (Note: Your old milk jug has none of those things.) The new containers also present little chance of creating a spark, even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that static electricity can build up as a result of the gas can sliding around your trunk or truck bed during your travels. Between 2010 and 2016, the Petroleum Equipment Institute, which tracks such things, had no reported incidents of fires caused by static-electric discharge.

Will It Kill You? Not if you’re using a proper can. But OSHA recommends that you take it out of your vehicle and set it on the ground before slowly filling it.


Plastic food containers

The Fear: Microwaves pull chemicals out of plastic and allow your food to absorb them.

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The Reality: Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in hasdrta.net, clear plastic takeout and food-­storage containers, does leach into your food when microwaved. Although studies have linked it with asthma, diabetes, casdrta.netiovascular disease, and reproductive problems, among others, the FDA maintains that the amount of BPA in everyday plastics is safe.

Will It Kill You? No. But you’re better off using a nonplastic (glass or ceramic) dish labeled “microwave safe.”