Print Story Body in a flat
Death
By nebbish (Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:40:53 AM EST) dead body (all tags)
Ewww


The last (and only) Husi drinks I intended I was talking to R Mutt and a couple of others about the peril of coming across the occasional dead body when you work as a housing officer. Fortunately the tales I had to tell were from colleagues, but I got one of my own yesterday.

I had to force entry to a flat to do a gas safety inspection after giving the required warnings. The gas safety itself is done by a Corgi registered guy from a company we use, accompanied by me as he is entering a flat without the tenant's permission and I'm a responsible, professional social care worker (snort).

Our handyman set about picking the lock (it's cool this bit. I'm hoping to go on a locksmith's course myself soon), but it proved very difficult as the door was locked from the inside. This set alarm bells ringing a bit. The flats have back doors onto a communal balcony but they are rarely used, as the balconies open onto a fire escape with no lift.

We ended up having to kick the door in. I've done, I dunno, maybe thirty or forty of these forced entries and I've never found a body, so although it was on my mind as I went in (and everyone else hung back), I wasn't really expecting it.

I looked to the right through the open door of the bathroom and saw what I can only describe as a clothed skeleton sat on the toilet. I said "Aaaaaargh!" and legged it out of the flat.

I rang the emergency services and the ambulance turned up first, which I suppose is procedure if someone finds a body even if it was pretty obvious it was a dead one. I hadn't really lingered to get a proper look (and fortunately didn't see the body's face), but the paramedic said it was in an advanced state of decomposition. The police turned up next, then the undertaker, and that was that.

The tenant was a woman of about fifty I'd had no dealings with in the past. The neighbours said they'd knocked on her door a few times, but that she was a bit strange and never answered the door to anyone anyway. That could be bollocks - they might feel guilty for not checking, and just lied. People do that.

It's a bit odd, seeing a decomposing body sitting on the toilet. I keep going over it in my head all the time, examining what I saw, involuntarily. I keep trying to remember the smell as well, which wasn't as bad as you'd think (though I suppose the worse was probably over by the time I got there). I don't think this is a way for my head to deal with the trauma or anything, just natural curiosity at an unusual event.

It was horrible, but in a way pretty cool as well. I keep telling everyone about it, and now I'm telling you. It's actually not my first dead body - I saw a few when I was working as a hospital porter, as well as a couple of relatives and friends laid out. I think I've seen enough though now to be honest.

Which is tough shit, as I'm doing more and more forced entries now and will no doubt see a few more. Maybe it's something you can get used to, but I doubt it.

< I'll only lie | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Body in a flat | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden)
Doing an Elvis by jump the ladder (4.00 / 4) #1 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:44:04 AM EST
Did she have lots of half eaten burgers and tranquilisers surrounding her?

You're a sick, sick man by nebbish (4.00 / 5) #2 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:46:13 AM EST
Apparently it is very, very common to die on the bog whilst you're straining. Another reason to eat plenty of fibre.

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fibre by Merekat (4.00 / 7) #3 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:50:20 AM EST
In which case, you'll only wish you were dying.

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Strokes by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #25 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 08:03:30 AM EST
It's a fairly common place to have a stroke.

I know this because of an X-Files episode.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

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Don't keep us in suspense by DesiredUsername (4.00 / 10) #4 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:51:16 AM EST
How did the gas safety check turn out??

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I hope that wasn't what killed her by nebbish (4.00 / 8) #5 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:53:49 AM EST
I told the gasman he was going to have to go in anyway, as a joke. You should have seen his face.

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That was actually my first thought by DesiredUsername (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:56:49 AM EST
but these "flats" as you so quaintly call them are connected, right? Wouldn't a weeks-old (at least) gas leak have been detected by someone else by now?

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Gas leaks aren't really the problem by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:05:10 AM EST
It's carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in fairly low and localised doses. It makes you very drowsy before you die, so the body would be more likely to be in a chair or in bed, not on the toilet.

I follow procedure very strictly on gas safety inspections as it is a criminal offence to fuck it up (can even lead to manslaughter charges), so I'm covered at least. I fucking hope so anyway.

Oh, yeah, sorry - cold-water shotgun apartments, whatever the fuck that is :-)

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So what if it was the gas leak by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:28:41 AM EST
where gas == carbon monoxide, that killed her ?

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As I understand it by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:47:41 AM EST
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of the gas burning incorrectly, rather than an actual leak. I don't know how and why (but I am going to ask next time I see the gas guy) it is able to get into the air without there being a leak of the flammable gas, but it does.

If the flammable gas leaks there is a distinctive (added) odour even at very low concentrations, so the tenant usually spots it themselves. Carbon monoxide on the other hand is odourless.

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Carbon Monoxide by hulver (4.00 / 2) #21 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 06:10:37 AM EST
Gas comes in, is burnt and the waste gases leave via the flue.

When methane (CH4) burns in the presence of Oxygen, the carbon and oxygen combine to create carbon di-oxide CO2 (and Water, H2O). If there is inadequate oxygen available due to improper ventilation then when the methane burns produces CO (carbon monoxide).

CO reacts readily with oxygen (which is why it's so poisonous, it upsets the oxygen carrying routine in the body)

As far as I recall anyway, Chemistry was never my strongest subject.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock

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Nah by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #22 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 06:28:51 AM EST
Carbon monoxide has more affinity for the oxygen carrying Haemoglobin molecules in your red blood cells than oxygen does and can't be easily removed and thus locks out the necessary oxygen supply to your major organs.

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Old fashioned gas by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #23 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 06:38:21 AM EST

Town Gas used to be a strange mix of stuff including a large proportion of Carbon Monoxide, hence the traditional suicide method of sticking your head in the oven. It was produced by alternately letting coke heat up with insufficient air which produced lots of CO, then spraying water in which if I remember my O-Level chemistry produced Methane and more CO. Various other byproducts got included which gave rise to the traditional smell.

With the arrival of North Sea gas the poisonousness went away as it's mostly Methane, so you got a spate of explosive suicides who after spending an hour with their head in the oven gave up and lit a ciggy. The smell also went away and had to be artificially reintroduced.

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Oh and also by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:50:44 AM EST
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the result of faulty equipment. Legally we have to test the equipment every year, and if the tenant doesn't let us in to test it, we have to bust the door down. If a tenant dies of carbon monoxide poisoning and the annual gas safety test hasn't been carried out, then I am in deep fucking shit. Or rather my manager is, I'd probably get a away with a suspended sentence.

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Fucking hell sir. by komet (4.00 / 4) #7 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:00:22 AM EST
Fucking hell.



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<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

Excellent by Breaker (4.00 / 6) #9 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:09:11 AM EST
I look forward to your future tales of forced entry.

Between that and Rogerbunty's forthcoming SJH spankfic, I can see the character of the site really changing quite rapidly...


Oh no by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #10 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:11:06 AM EST
I'm never going to be able to keep a straight face doing the next one now.

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It shouldn't be too bad by Rogerborg (4.00 / 2) #28 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:30:40 AM EST
Just don't tell her you're thinking of kicking down a door.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
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tales of forced entry by sasquatchan (4.00 / 4) #12 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:28:06 AM EST
with a dead body...


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How long had the person been dead? by webwench (4.00 / 3) #11 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:25:31 AM EST
Long enough that the rent was overdue?

Being a person who sometimes doesn't answer the door or phone, this sort of death is a concern, the kind where you don't turn up for work for a few days or don't call your mom for a few weeks, so eventually an emergency contact is called and a family member sent around, who discovers the hapless dead body whose face is now providing a midday snack for several household cats.


Getting more attention than you since 1998.

Easy. by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:35:35 AM EST
Like your dog wouldn't snack on you by georgeha (4.00 / 4) #19 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 06:04:50 AM EST
He might feel bad for a few minutes, but hunger takes over.


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But the difference is by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 06:10:25 AM EST
I used to worry about it when I lived alone by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #15 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:38:00 AM EST
I had a couple of friends I spoke to very regularly though so I figured it wouldn't be much more than a week before I was found.

Yeah, that really put me at ease.

The rent was overdue but it was paid by housing benefit (social security), for which you only have to re-apply every six months. The nature of council tenancy contracts (which basically say you own the property) also mean we can only enter under extreme circumstances, such as safety reasons (like I did) or if the rent is in very, very high arrears, thousands rather than hundreds of pounds. Feasibly she might have been dead a very long time.

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Smell by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #26 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 08:10:38 AM EST
What I can never understand is how people miss the smell. Is it just that the flats are air tight enough to keep it contained? I had a stray cat die in our yard years ago and the smell was oppressive from 10-20 feet away. If a ten pound cat can do that, what about a 200 pound human?
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In this case by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #27 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 11:28:25 PM EST
The neighbours hadn't noticed any bad smell, which is odd. Depends on the size of the human, but if a cat stinks that bad....

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plspostpixkthx by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 07:53:05 AM EST
..however after some thought, maybe best not, eh?

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Aargh, sorry I'm so late! by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #29 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:33:11 AM EST
What's left to check?  You've looked under the mattress, and the little gap on top of the fridge?  Dibs on any squeaky floorboards, if Plod hasn't already looted there.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
Ewww by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #30 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:39:01 AM EST
Dead body aside, the flat was well minging. I hate going into these places sometimes... Acually, no, scrap that, it's fucking fascinating. Just so long as you don't have to touch anything.

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heh by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #31 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:48:49 AM EST
At least watching A Life of Grime, I can be glad that nobody has invented Smellyvision.

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Yeah by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #32 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:59:40 AM EST
I didn't go into the worst flat we've had - full of catshit. Was meant to be absolutely awful, throwing up bad.

Why do they put Life of Grime on at tea-time? Bonkers.

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Don't you have latex gloves? by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #33 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 03:30:25 AM EST
I don't necessarily mean for work purposes; I know you have... hobbies.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
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Body in a flat | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden)