The Benton-Franklin Health District is warning people with septic tanks to check access points and ensure lids are properly secured after a local 3-year-old recently had a scary fall.
The Franklin County boy wasn’t seriously hurt when he fell into the tank last week, but “We’re very lucky this wasn’t a tragic situation,” said Rick Dawson, the health district’s environmental health supervisor.
A 2-year-old boy in Skagit County died last year after falling into a tank, and Franklin County also saw a similar tragedy in 2004 when a 3-year-old suffocated after falling into a septic tank at a home north of Basin City.
The recent accident involved a newly built septic tank.
This oversight allowed the child to remove the lid and fall in. Although the child was covered in sewage, the fact that the home was newly occupied and the septic tank nearly empty is what saved him.
Benton-Franklin Health District
The Benton-Franklin Health District approved its construction, but “it’s up to the construction company to ensure that lids are secured once construction is complete and it appears that didn’t happen in this case,” Dawson said in a statement.
The tank’s lightweight lid was at ground level, and it’s believed it wasn’t secured with screws when construction was done.
“This oversight allowed the child to remove the lid and fall in. Although the child was covered in sewage, the fact that the home was newly occupied and the septic tank nearly empty is what saved him,” a health district news release said.
Before 2007, it was standard practice for septic tanks to have heavy lids, with buried access.
But these days, new tanks often have lighter lids that are ground level, making them easier to access and maintain.