Man's death from flash fire ruled 'tragic misadventure'
Foul play ruled out in death of man who suffered severe burns while lighting aromatherapy diffusers
It has been about six months since their father, Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan, died from a flash fire while he was lighting two aromatherapy diffusers at home.
Though his four children have been told what happened to him, they are still asking for their father, said his widow, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman, yesterday.
"They still look for their father. My four-year-old son looks for him," she told The New Paper.
She was speaking to reporters after State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled out foul play and suicide in his findings into Mr Rizalludin's death.
The 34-year-old IT engineer was trying to light two Avita Aromatherapy Diffusers in the master bedroom's bathroom at about 9.30pm last Oct 13.
Madam Nurul had bought the diffusers and 12 litres of aromatic oils from Shiang's International, a network marketing company which manages the Avita brand, in 2014 and last year.
She and her mother, who were in the master bedroom, heard a loud explosion coming from the bathroom.
Mr Rizalludin then ran out engulfed in flames. The women smothered the flames with blankets before calling for an ambulance.
Mr Rizalludin, who had second-degree burns on 80 per cent of his body, was taken to the National University Hospital and transferred to the Singapore General Hospital's burns unit the next day. He underwent skin and bone grafts, among other procedures, but died in hospital on Oct 22.
Before Mr Bay delivered his findings yesterday, Mr Chok Wai Chen, the operations manager of Shiang's International, testified that the company had reminded its customers of the safety protocols and invited them to take a safety refresher course.
Mr Bay said the flash fire could have been caused by the open flame igniting the vapours evaporating from the fluid in the essential oil refill bottle.
The temperature at which the fluid gives off sufficient vapour that can be ignited was determined to be about 16 deg C.
He advised users to avoid leaving the essential oil refill container uncapped for long and to avoid refilling the diffusers in confined or unventilated spaces where the vapours could build up.
The refill containers should also be kept at a "significant distance" from an ignited diffuser or open flame, he added.
Mr Bay ruled that Mr Rizalludin's death was a tragic misadventure and expressed his condolences to Mr Rizalludin's family, including his mother, Madam Nurul and her two daughters, who were present in court.
Mr Rizalludin's mother could be seen sobbing during the inquiry, and Madam Nurul and her mother were also seen tearing.
After the hearing, Madam Nurul, 34, a primary school teacher, told TNP that she, her son and three daughters - aged from one to nine - are getting by with strong support from her relatives, friends and even members of the public.
The inquiry has been tough on the family because it brought back the horrors of what happened, she said.
"It's like reliving all those images," she said, referring to her seeing her husband engulfed in flames that fateful night.
"My husband was very much well loved by our family. We will try to recover."
It's like reliving all those images. My husband was very much well loved by our family. We will try to recover.
- Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman on the inquiry
Aromatherapy oil refill bottles now have safety warning label
Network marketing company Shiang's International relies on distributors of its Avita brand of aromatherapy diffusers to conduct safety demonstrations for customers, its operations manager told the court yesterday.
Mr Chok Wai Chen said safety demonstrations are the responsibility of the distributors and that customers would not normally know how to operate the diffusers without the demonstrations.
Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan's widow, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman, earlier told the court that no one had shown her how to use the diffusers and that she had been given only verbal instructions.
Mr Chok also testified that customers are always advised to pour the aromatherapy oil from the 5-litre essential oil refill tub into a smaller measuring cup before transferring the oil into the diffuser.
When Madam Nurul said she was not issued a measuring cup, he said it was because they were sold separately. He added that his company is now giving out the measuring cups after the incident.
The company has also e-mailed its customers to remind them of the safety protocols and to invite them for a safety refresher course, he said.
It has uploaded a safety video on its website and added a safety warning label on the refill bottle to remind users to keep it away from an open flame, among other safety instructions.
Mr Chok said another e-mail has been sent to customers to inform them that the 5-litre refill bottle would be discontinued.