Man dies after explosion while preparing aromatherapy diffuser
Husband dies after explosion while preparing aromatherapy diffuser. Wife recalls his words while waiting for ambulance.
The family were in the master bedroom while Mr Mohd Rizalludin Hassan, 35, went to its bathroom to prepare an aromatherapy diffuser.
It had been their nightly routine since the haze started. Mr Rizalludin, an engineer, would light up the diffuser in the bathroom before taking it into the room.
But it went terribly wrong on the night of Oct 13.
His wife, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman, 34, was helping their oldest daughter, Anggun Ardini, eight, with her mathematics revision.
Madam Nurul's mother, Madam Juraidah Nabi, 53, was playing with the other three children - five-year-old Ayra Arinah, three-year-old Aariz Anaqi and 10-month-old Ana Auliyah.
Then they heard a loud sound coming from the bathroom.
"It sounded like a cupboard had toppled over," said Madam Nurul, a teacher.
She will never forget what happened next: Her husband ran out of the bathroom, his body in flames.
Recalling the horrific sight, she told The New Paper yesterday evening: "When I saw my husband in flames, I was so shocked, I didn't know what to do.
"I completely forgot all fire safety procedures in my panic."
SCREAMED IN PAIN
Mr Rizalludin screamed in pain and jumped on and off the bed in a frenzy.
After getting over their shock, Madam Nurul and her mother pinned him to the floor and smothered the flames with a blanket.
Mr Rizalludin told Madam Nurul that he was having difficulty breathing and asked for a glass of water.
Their maid, who found what had happened, ran outside the flat and shouted for help.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it was alerted to the incident at about 9.55pm on Oct 13 and it dispatched a fire engine, an ambulance and a supporting appliance.
SCDF, which is investigating the incident, also said that a man in his 30s was taken to National University Hospital with burn injuries.
Madam Nurul said they had bought two 5-litre plastic containers of essential oil for about $600 from a company showroom after seeing its promotion online. The purchase came with a free aromatherapy diffuser and an extra 2-litre bottle of essential oil.
They had kept the containers of essential oil in the master bedroom's bathroom.
Madam Nurul still remembers vividly how her husband groaned in pain.
"It pained my heart to see him that way. While waiting for the ambulance, he turned to me and whispered 'sorry'," she said.
Mr Rizalludin suffered severe burns on his body and was later transferred to the Singapore General Hospital where he was warded in the Intensive Care Unit for nine days.
His children could only see him through a glass window. They sang to him and told him stories through the intercom. But he was unresponsive most of the time.
On Oct 22, his blood pressure dropped to an all-time low and his condition worsened, said Madam Nurul.
He died that day.
The widow said that the family meant the world to her husband. He would come home straight from work just to help around the flat and monitor his children's well-being.
As the oldest of four siblings, he was doted on by his family, especially his mother and grandmother. Even her parents adored their only son-in-law, said Madam Nurul.
"My husband would usually take Anggun to school every morning and tuck our son, Aariz, into bed every night. I lost the person I depended on the most in this world," she said while trying to hold back her tears.
Mr Rizalludin's last request was for his wife to accompany him on a fishing trip on his birthday on Nov 15. Fishing was his hobby, but Madam Nurul was never a fan of it.
"I had agreed to it, but sadly it will never happen now," she said.
Gases in room could have turned flammable: Expert
There is a possibility that fumes from the diffuser could have built up in the toilet and led to the explosion.
Associate Professor Gao Zhiqiang from the Department of Chemistry at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Science said: "Usually, aromatherapy is used in a closed room. This could mean vapour build-up in a closed space.
"The gases in the surroundings within the space could have become flammable with the change in chemistry during the therapy, and a spark could result in an explosion or flash fire in seconds."
Mr Mohd Rizalludin Hassan suffered 80 per cent burns on his body after an explosion while he was preparing an aromatherapy diffuser in the master bedroom toilet on Oct 13.
He was using a five-litre plastic container of essential oil to top up the diffuser at the time.
A check with the Consumers Association of Singapore showed there has been no complaint about faulty essential oil diffuser devices in the last three years.
- JUDITH TAN
When using a diffuser...
PROPER USE: A screengrab from a video put up by an aromatherapy retailer on how to use a diffuser. PHOTO:SCREENGRAB/MYAVITA.COM
The website where Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman saw the promotion for essential oils has two videos: One is how to use an aromatheraphy diffuser and the other has safety measures to be taken when using one.
- After filling the diffuser with oil from the essential oil container, wipe off any spilt oil from the diffuser and your hands.
- Close the oil container immediately.
- Before lighting up the diffuser, remove the oil container from the immediate vicinity.
- After lighting up, blow out the open flame after two minutes.
- Position the burner head away from the reach of children and pets.
- Keep the container of oil away from open flames.
- Do not have a lighted diffuser next to you when filling up additional diffusers.
- Do not leave the flame unattended.
- Always blow out the flame instead of using an object to suppress it.
- Do not try to light a diffuser with the flame of another diffuser.