For 6-year-old Jhanvi* and 4-year-old Sakshi* what seemed like a regular school day turned into a nightmare. The little girls came home on Tuesday only to realise that their parents were dead.
Mahesh, a 35-year-old techie, a native of Belagavi, and his wife Sheela (30) a homemaker were found dead in the bathroom of their apartment in Pattanagere in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwarinagar on Tuesday.
The RR Nagar Police suspect that the couple suffocated to death due to the carbon monoxide which leaked from the gas geyser installed in the bathroom.
According to the police, both Jhanvi and Sakshi had left home for school in the morning at aroumd 8.30 am. However, Sakshi returned home from school at 2.30 pm and Jhanvi too returned minutes after her sister.
“The younger girl had knocked on the door and their parents did not open the door. She then went to stay in her neighbour’s house. When her sister came back, she too went to the neighbour’s house. After half an hour, the girls have knocked on the door again and no one opened the door. That’s when the neighbours called the police because they suspected that even if Mahesh was not home, Sheela must have been inside,” the police said.
At round 3.30 pm, the RR Nagar police arrived at Shivaganga Apartment where the ceouple lived and broke open the door.
“One of them must have watching a movie as it was paused on the laptop. When we entered the couple’s bedroom, they were not there. And the water was running in the bathroom. When we broke open the door, we found both of them lying on the floor. A gas geyser and electric geyser were there but only the gas geyser was switched on. The ventilation is bad in the bathroom and they may have inhaled carbon monoxide from the gas geyser, which was substandard and faulty,” an investigating officer said.
The bodies have been sent to Victoria Hospital for an autopsy and a case under section 174 of the CrPC has been registered (case under investigation).
“Once the postmortem report comes, we will be able to determine the cause of death and then add relevant sections to the FIR,” the officer added.
The little girls are currently living with their neighbour and will be handed over to their grandfather who is yet to arrive from Belagavi.
When can gas geysers become dangerous?
A gas geyser has a gas heater which is connected to an LPG unit. It is a combination of butane and propane which results in the rapid heating of water. However, combustion of butane and propane produces water and carbon monoxide. This combination results in inadequate amount of oxygen and leads to a condition called toxic encephalopathy, where a person turns unconscious.
According to the research by a Pune-based neurologist Rahul Kulkarni on the dangers of gas geysers, when people stay in a bathroom which is not well ventilated and has a gas geyser on for more than seven minutes, the person can become unconscious. However, the person can be revived if he or she is brought outside the bathroom immediately.
What you should know before installing a gas geyser
It is very important to fit a gas geyser in a well-ventilated bathroom. If your bathroom is tiny and does not have enough air flow, it is better to not have a gas geyser. This is because, without enough oxygen, the carbon monoxide released from substandard gas geysers can lead to suffocation.
While buying a gas geyser, check whether it has a carbon monoxide sensor. These sensors must be fitted to alert people if there is a carbon monoxide build up in the bathroom. Most substandard gas geysers do not have sensors and hence they are also priced lower.
It is advisable to not have long showers or baths while a gas geyser is still on.