Following the discovery of two bodies in a septic tank at Hyde Park, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD) on Thursday night, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) is urging citizens to clean and maintain their septic tanks on a regular basis.
According to a statement from the Fire Service, the average household septic tank should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional.
The agency noted that “the lack of cleaning and maintenance to septic tanks can present serious hazards including septic cave-in’s or collapses, methane gas explosion hazards and asphyxiation hazards as well as risks of unsanitary conditions such as bacterial or viral infections.”
The tank where the bodies were found
The Guyana Fire and Rescue Service was called to the location of the recent incident at about 21:32h on Thursday to assist two persons who had fallen into a septic tank. However, on arrival at the location, it was noticed that the duo –42-year-old Camille Dwarka and 51-year-old Ramlall Madhoo –were already motionless.
According to a Police report 42-year-old Camille Dwarka was going to the toilet when her niece Anita Joseph heard her screaming and went to her rescue. Upon checking, the niece reportedly discovered that her aunt had fallen into the septic tank.
She then called out to Madhoo who jumped into the septic tank to rescue his wife but he was unable to do so.
The niece, police said, then proceeded to look into the septic tank where she discovered they were motionless and called for help.
The bodies were seen and examined by police but no marks of violence were seen on the most exposed parts. They were then uplifted by the undertakers from Memorial Funeral Home and escorted to Diamond Diagnostic Centre where they were both pronounced dead by the doctor on duty.
The bodies are both presently lying at Memorial Funeral Home awaiting post mortem examinations.
The GFS released the following safety rules which should be followed at all times to ensure septic tanks do not become hazardous.
– Never lean over a septic tank opening or stick your head into the tank to examine its interior – you could become overcome by gases, fall into the tank, and suffocate.
– Leave tank cleaning and repairs to trained professionals.
– Never enter a septic tank unless you are specially trained and are wearing special equipment and gear for that purpose, including a self-contained breathing apparatus.
– Do not go into a septic tank to retrieve someone who has fallen in and was overcome by gases unless you are equipped with a self-contained breathing apparatus. Instead, call for emergency services and put one or more fans at the top of the septic tank to blow in fresh air.
– Never work alone in or around a septic tank.
– Don’t ignite flames or smoke cigarettes at or near the tank. This can cause an explosion.
– Be sure that the tank and its access ports have sound and secure covers that do not risk collapse and which cannot be removed or nudged aside by children or animals.
– Beware of old, collapsing septic systems.
– Watch out for evidence of sinking soil, rusted-through steel septic tank covers, home-made wooden or flimsy tank covers, or home made cesspools and dry wells which risk collapsing.