"I found your computer disk with the tax records on it. It's on the fridge."
That may not sound like a death warrant, but make no mistake: That data is dead.Lurking in your home, inches away from your perishables, the magnetic force is ready to unleash untold destruction under the beguiling disguise of plastic Hershey Kisses, heather geese and pizza delivery phone numbers.
In an age of microelectronics, the household magnet is poison. Sound, images and information are etched on tapes and disks, and all it takes is a magnetic field, and it's as if your Etch-a-sketch has been turned over.
This is the hit list:
- Cassettes: If you keep them in your car, keep them away from magnets in the glove compartment or tools that have magnetic clips. If you drop them in your tote bag, make sure you don't drop magnets in there, too.
- Videotapes: Since children can't destroy them, they seem invincible. They are particularly vulnerable in storage, where they might be placed next to old electrical motors.
- Computer disks: Computers rely on a neuroskeleton of magnetic tracks, and when a magnet wipes them out, the FBI lab couldn't put your files back together again.
- Game cartridges: Same deal. Watch the company they keep.
- Television screens: Now, don't be like the kid who gets his tongue frozen on a pole seeing if it would freeze, but we'll tell you anyway: If you hold a magnet up to your screen, it can damage the picture tube, so that a big blob of color remains where the magnet was held.
We shouldn't have said anything. Parents, you better hide the magnets. It's about time you cleaned off the front of that refrigerator, anyway.