Serious Dangers When Bathrooms Are Not Ventilated
Gas Causes Death
A warning about the danger from gas in unventilated bathrooms was given by the East Northants Deputy Coroner (Mr. J. S. Parker) last Friday evening, when he entered a verdict of “Accidental death” at the inquest on Miss Mabel Beatrice Helina Smith, who died in a bath at 113 Newton-road, Rushden a Council house.
The inquest was held at Rushden Police Station.
Dr. Alice Dorothy Pickard, of Rushden, said she was called at about 9.15 and found deceased in the living-room. There were no marks of violence, and she appeared to have been suffering from coal gas poisoning. Artificial respiration was performed for about two hours, but without success.
The doctor added that she had not attended Miss Smith previously.
The Coroner: The bathroom is very small, isn’t it? Witness: Yes.
If anybody had a bath and left the copper burning they might easily suffer from coal gas poisoning? Yes, very easily.
Mrs. Fanny Smith, of 113 Newton-road, wife of Samuel Smith, a retired smallholder, said that Miss Smith was her stepdaughter, and had resided with her for some years.
About 8.30 on Thursday evening deceased went to the bathroom to have a bath. The bathroom adjoined the scullery, and was on the ground floor. To obtain hot water for the bath the copper had to be lighted. There was only a small window, which had to be shut because of the black-out, and there was no ventilator. The bathroom, in fact, was very small.
The Coroner: You almost have to get in the bath before you can shut the door? Witness : Yes, you do.
About 9 o’clock, continued witness, she went to the pantry, opposite the bathroom, and noticed a strong smell of gas. She knocked on the bathroom door, and, getting no response, broke open the door, which was locked. Inside she saw her stepdaughter lying in the bath, which contained only about five inches of water. Deceased was unconscious, but her head was above water. The gas under the copper was turned on and alight, the copper being full in preparation for the little girl’s bath.
Mrs. Smith said she sent for her son, who removed deceased from the bath, and artificial respiration was performed. It was a very cold night. Deceased had a bath regularly once a week. She had not been attended by a doctor recently, and had been in good health.
“I don’t think we need to pursue this any further,” said the Coroner. “I find that deceased died from coal gas poisoning, which was accidentally received as a result of being shut in this bathroom with no window open and no ventilator.
“I think it ought to be known and realised that the fact of having a gas on in a confined space with no ventilation will cause coal gas poisoning, because it denudes the air of oxygen, and a person becomes overcome and suffers from the effects. It is most important when there is gas on in a bathroom that there should be some form of ventilation.”
Mr. S. J. J. Smith, of 43, Trafford-road, Rushden, brother of the deceased, said he would like to thank the police constable (P.C. Earl) for the way he worked on Thursday night.
“He worked very hard,” added Me. Smith.
“I am sure he did,” said the Coroner, “and I am sure you did as well.”