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Gravesend man dies after staying in leisure centre sauna for 40 minutes
A GRAVESEND man died of heat exposure in a sauna, an inquest heard today (October 17).
Barinder Lal, 48, was found dead and covered with burns after staying in the facility in Cascades Leisure Centre in Thong Lane for around 40 minutes.
The transport manager, who lived with his wife in Abbey Road, was discovered on the top bench by another member of the public at around 4.15pm on June 1 last year.
Pathologist Dr Peter Jerreat, who carried out the post mortem examination, said: “If you think 60 degrees celcius is water which can scald you, that is the equivalent of him sitting in boiling water.
“He had diabetes but this was not the cause of death.
“He had congested lungs from heart failure and denaturation had occurred, which means protein was breaking down in the body because of the heat.
“I believe he fainted and the hot surfaces caused burns.
“I don’t really have anything else to compare it to, as I only really know of one other case of death in a sauna.”
The cause of death was given as heat exposure with burns.
The sauna was found to be heated at between 73 and 75 F which is below the national guidelines of 80 to 100F.
However, Dr Jerreat said he believed Mr Lal had stayed in there for considerably longer than usual.
He told the court: “It is fair to say most people stay in there between five and 10 minutes.
“I would have thought he was in there for around 40 minutes.”
The inquest at Gravesend Old Town Hall continued after adjourning on June 7.
Cascades facilities development manager Wayne Pedrick described at the earlier hearing how he had given CPR at the scene.
He told the court: "I went straight into the sauna.
"I saw this gentleman in the upright position.
"I shook him and said ‘Can you see me, can you hear me’, at which point he had flopped.
"I hauled him out of the sauna and turned him around.
"I noticed on his left leg that he had some sort of grazes, blood marks. I noticed his skin like sunburn, a little bit flaky."
He went on to say staff at the centre, which is co- run by Gravesham Community Centre Ltd and Gravesham Council, did hourly checks on the health suite and had last seen a man lying in the sauna at 3.30pm.
Mr Pedrick added there was a sign outside the sauna recommending users only stay in for 20 minutes and to seek advice from doctors if they suffered from conditions such as diabetes.
Mr Lal, who was born in Wolverhampton, had recently taken out a member pass for a month and had already used the health suite 13 times in three weeks, the inquest heard.
Council environmental health officer Mandy Cartwright, who carried out a report following Mr Lal’s death, said: "My conclusion was there was nothing to signify the sauna unit was not working at the correct temperature.
"No recent maintenance had been carried out and no complaints.
"It isn’t clear how long this man was in the sauna."
She went on to say the health suite complied with leisure industry guidelines but made recommendations including for all users to fill in health questionnaires, half-hourly checks on the health suite, and an emergency alarm to be fitted inside the sauna.
The jury returned a verdict of death by accident.
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