back to article Aussie woman's toilet trauma prompts lav-overhaul call

An Australian doctor has called for a fundamental redesign of the nation's lavatories after a severely dehydrated Queensland woman was freed from a seven-day imprisonment in her dunny. Doreen Noonan, 67, was trapped in her toilet for a week, with her "feet wedged on either side of the toilet and her body against the inward …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Well I hope I'm the first in with . . .

    All together now

    "Oh dear, what can the matter be"

    Many a true word spoken in jest eh ? But on a serious mote, please tell me it was the cistern and not the bowl.

    Paris ? Who needs a reason.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pass a law now!

    Just think how bad that would be if it would happen to you, your famuily or to your children.

    Pass a law now!

    The design of all bathrooms and toilets have to be fixed.

    Just think of the children.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    H&S gone mad (again/still)

    1 person from a population of ~20 million gets stuck in the bog, and they want to redesign the whole nation's sanitary facilities...

  4. Conor Turton

    Common sense missing.

    I've yet to work out who the hell thought that having a small toilet cubicle with a door that opens inwards was a good idea. Common sense would surely tell you that if the distance from the door to the toilet wasn't that much larger than the width of the door then unless you're Peter Crouch or the Pepperami stick man, you're gonna have issues if it opens inwards.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    No Picture?

    I hope she flushed before doing any drinking!

    I can't understand how she got stuck? seems stupid to me!

    Steve Jobs because he smells like a toilet.

  6. William Towle
    Thumb Up

    Wedged in dunny for seven days?

    ...Sunday to Saturday, presumably.

    // all together now...

  7. It wasnt me


    Im amazed this hasnt happened before now.

    For most new-build homes in the u.k you need to be a contortionist to get in the loos. They make the airline ones look spacious.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    For god's sake!!!

    Why do reporters always mention useless facts like "she probably drank her wee and ate her own fescies" and stuff?

  9. lukewarmdog

    I'm fat get me out of here

    If I was too fat to fit in a small room with an inwardly opening door, I wouldn't proceed to wedge myself in there and then sit down.

    Old people eh, can't live with them, can't afford to send them to Switzerland for their euthenasia jabs.

  10. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Color me disbelieving...

    ...but perhaps one can explain (using a replica and a dummy) how one can become trapped within the facility for an extended length of time with no means of escape? Was the person infirm? Did this become an IFAICGU situation?

  11. Christopher Rogers
    Thumb Up


    hahahahahahahaha!!!!! Idiot!

  12. Psymon

    what.... the...

    At first I couldn't wrap my head round how this woman had managed to trap herself in such a unusual position, but as I mulled it over, I realised exactly what she must have been doing.

    Firstly, one must assume the room is a box with only a toilet in it, (not uncommon, especially under stairs) for there to be so little space either side of the toilet that a foot could become trapped. This would coincide with the inwards opening door being so close.

    OK, so this is a toilet room, not a bathroom, and much smaller than most public cubicles, but to trap your own feet?

    I think it's fairly safe to assume that unless you have hips/knees that don't bend in the same way as other humans, when you're sat on the bog, your legs are out in front of you (roughly)?

    Also, to get your feet so firmly wedged that you couldn't remove them (which one would hope you'd notice due to the pressure before trying to walk off) would require your own body weight, which when your sat on the throne is displaced over the pan, not your plates-o-meat.

    So, feet either side of the bog, with your weight on them to get them firmly stuck... Surely that means she was squatting over her own toilet? Even being chritable this is silly (maybe in a public convenience that is in less than hygenic state this could be understandable)

    But to then not notice you've managed to jam both feet before leaning forwards?

    Where's the Darwin icon?

  13. JasonW

    If she lives alone...

    why did she need to shut the dunny door anyway?

  14. Jay Castle

    How the hell.....

    .....was she sitting on it, in order to get her "feet wedged on either side of the toilet"?

    Madam it's a lavatory, not a Scooty-Puff Jnr!

    That is all.

  15. James Le Cuirot
    Thumb Up

    @ Charles 9

    I think this calls for some PlayMobil. Roll on Friday!

  16. MnM

    IFAICGU? (@ Charles)

    I'm sorry but I refuse to google this.

    Oh alright then... hum dee hum... here we go: I've fallen and I can't get up.

    Why? How does this help? Where will it end?

  17. -tim

    Getting stuck isn't that uncommon

    For those not familiar with Aussie facilities, the only thing in the the room may be the porcelain throne making it truly the smallest room in the house. A sink and tub or shower will be in a different room. To add to the fun issues of not being able to wash up before leaving the room, its is very common to have an unclosable window to ensure more than enough ventilation.

  18. Seanmon


    How can you be flexible enough to "drink from a cistern or (ick) bowl" (not that I've tried, but I don't imagine it would be that easy), and yet not be able to negotiate a door, albeit even one of those tricky inward-opening ones?

    Looking forward to the playmobil reconstruction, I'm stumped.

  19. Anonymous John

    @ Color me disbelieving.

    "(using a replica and a dummy)"

    You mean a Playmobil reconstruction.

  20. g e

    You'd think....

    She'd have noticed the first foot was stuck before proceeding to wedge the second one in...?

    You do tend to notice pretty quickly when you can no longer move part of your body normally

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Must be a very old lav.

    Even before my carpenter Dad retired 10 years ago, Aussie domestic loos were already required by law to have two safety features - any privacy lock must be able to be opened from the outside (with, say, a screwdriver or coin), and doors must have a combination of split hinges and a gap at the top and bottom (so the door can be lifted off its hinges in such situations).

    No redesign or new rules necessary.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    It has to be written...

    "Noonan was taken to hospital where she was reported to be in a stable condition." brings to mind the old joke

    Newsreader: "The horse was said to be in a stable condition..."

  23. Stef 4
    IT Angle

    Great news...

    "1 person from a population of ~20 million gets stuck in the bog, and they want to redesign the whole nation's sanitary facilities..."

    This is great news. I'm guessing that they will be redesigning bullets too so that people don't get hurt? I'm guessing that more than 1 in 20 million people each day get hurt by bullets.

    Actually, I got a nasty papercut the other day. When oh when will our bloody government do something about sharp paper? If that paper had been coated in some form of anti-coagulant, I could have bled to death over 7 days. Hopefully a neighbour would have heard me calling for help.

    A narrow escape I think.

  24. JimC

    @Castle etc...

    I don't suppose, from the description, the poor woman was seated. Its sounds to me as if she might have lost her balance when standing up with her back to the door.

  25. Graham Marsden

    On a related note...

    ... nothing to do with the story in the article, but a small tale to amuse...

    A friend is an ex-pat Civil Engineer working in the Middle East and heard about a half-built housing estate that had to be torn down and re-started from scratch after someone noticed that anyone living in one of the houses would not only be facing towards Mecca to pray, but would also be worshipping the great porcelain god in the same direction...!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh the horror...

    You go for a dump but the lock for the cubicle door isnt working properley. While in the middle of business you hear someone approaching so you brace your foot aginst the door just in case to stop them from being able to walk in on you forgetting that for safety reasons THE DOOR OPENS OUTWARDS!

    There you are sat with your pants round your ankles mid sentence with the door rapidly opening away from you with no way to grab it other than to lunge forwards like an olympic diver aiming for a perfect score.

    And all because one person got stuck in the crapper

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @ tim or perhaps all Aussies

    "...of not being able to wash up before leaving the room,"

    What? You take the dirty dishes in their and wash up while ....? So where do you wash your hands?

    Sounds nasty.

    More seriously, I am thin, fit, agile even. But I have experienced such tiny lavs. that, to open the door, one has to straddle the WC and lean backwards to open the door and swing it past oneself. I can imagine a frail, but largeish and not very mobile elderly woman finding the contortions necessary just too much one day and panicking, getting exhausted and just no strength to lift her feet high enough.

    Just wait till you have got there or even just got some injury rendering you less agile than you think you are. "Oh so witty computer nerd trapped in dunny ..." Great headline.

  28. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    A problem for all of us...

    "..For most new-build homes in the u.k you need to be a contortionist to get in the loos. They make the airline ones look spacious..."

    While thinking of something funny to write here it gradually dawned on me that this could be a growing problem. Loos ARE getting smaller and smaller in modern homes. And people are living longer and longer.

    Space that is suitable for a young person may be inadequate as they get older, and their limbs become less strong and supple. If an old person falls, they will have problems getting up in a confined space. I wonder how many deaths have already happened, and when it will start to register in the stats as a cause of death with a separate title...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems Appropriate

    "Stevenson said Australia needed to take a long hard look at its karzis if it wanted to prevent similar incidents. "We need to look at the design of bathrooms and toilets and particularly the access," he said. ®

    Free whitepaper – Opening new doors with HD Video and Telepresence"

    That last line, the one in blue... it *was* part of the article, yes?

  30. Lyndon Barry

    Or just maybe..

    she was sat "backwards" facing the cistern? so that to get up, she would normally use the cistern to push/pull herself up, and the door opened while she was sat there and came to rest against her back. So she couldn't get up (door kept her in place), couldn't close the door (too old/frail and in the wrong position) and was literally jammed in there. Then to drink, she just lifted off the cistern lid and billibong's yer uncle

  31. Andus McCoatover

    Dunny^How how this was possible...

    In Finland, doors always open outwards. So, had she been sensible and lived in a civilised country like what where I comm^H^H^H^Habode, this couldn't have happened.

    Didn't a similar incident happen on an (?)AA aircraft where some fat bint had to be extracated from the bog at the back?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Spotting the problem and fixing it ...

    Clearly the main problem is the manufacturer liability, caused by deficient instructions for installation, proper use, and finally the licensing conditions.

    That can be easily amended however.

    First the installation instructions. Any toilet pot (sorry: "sanitary appliance") sold should come with the following installation instructions:

    (xxx) Always ensure that this appliance is installed in a properly dimensioned enclosure so as to guarantee both accessibility of the appliance and allows the user to effect an emergency exit at all times.

    It should also carry the following clause in its "instructions for use":

    (yyy) When utilizing your sanitary appliance, always position yourself so as to be able to effect an emergency exit. Do not utilize this appliance if it has been installed improperly.

    Last but not least the licensing conditions must be amended, which can be easily done as follows:

    "In addition to the above, end-user license to utilize this sanitary appliance is conditional on it being proper installed by a qualified (fill in name of brand here) sanitary installation technician and and it being utilized strictly in accordance to the accompanying instructions for use."

    There ... fixed it. At least the liability aspect, which is the main thing.

  33. Grivas Bo Diddly Harm

    Cheers, mine's a pint of.....

    Baldrick: Should we drink each other's or stick to our own?

    Edmund: Is Captain Rum joining us for this bring-a-sample party, or is he going to sit this one out?

    Percy: Oh no, he's been swigging his for ages. He says he likes it. Actually, come to think of it, he started before the water ran out.

  34. Tiasis

    She's not the only one

    This actually happen to my mother in the Brisbane airport this past December. It really isn't hard to lock yourself in, as the doors/lock mechanisms are outdated and the doors/wall of the stalls almost go floor to ceiling. It took seven people to break her out. It was funny now, and then, but sure would have been a different story had she not had a travelmate to go look for her.

  35. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Health and Safety lunacy

    Several people will be killed re-hanging 20M+ the doors so they open outwards - then several thousand will be injured as the doors are open outward on to them and then health and safety will reverse their decision.

    I read a health and safety manual once, got a paper cut, dropped it on my foot and fell down the stairs.NEVER AGAIN!

  36. Anonymous Coward

    She should have taken a lappy with her...

    ... and Twittered a SOS.

    This is the only reason I take my laptop to the dunny...

  37. Antti Roppola
    IT Angle

    Extreme dunny design

    I once stayed at a hotel where the loo was so small you had to climb ont othe lid to close the door behind you. Any smaller and they would have needed a notch cut in the door to clear the edges of the bowl.

    We could make this an IT story by mandating all Aussie loos are fitted with a Twitter feed to and AMSA's search & rescue facilities. Roll on the paperless loo?

  38. Sonya Fox


    I've always thought Aussies were a little weird (Vegemite, for example) but if all Aussie bathrooms are so microscopic that you can actually get stuck in one I do believe a revision to the building codes may indeed be in order, as per Dr. Stevenson's recommendation. I've yet to figure out the utility of even making a bathroom that tiny, especially in a home, my bathroom is 12' by 8' and I think that's too small.

  39. ThaRobster

    Flip it around

    Am I the only person here who read the article and came to the conclusion that the only way she could wedge herself against the door with both feet down the sides of the pan and be able to drink from the pan or cistern was that she was sitting on it the wrong way around? I.E facing the cistern, not the door.

    Either that or she fell forwards and face-planted the door.

    I have no idea who the icon is, but it looks a bit constipated, maybe he was next in the queue?

  40. GilbertFilbert

    Ejector seats

    What could possibly go wrong?

  41. William Towle

    Re: Extreme dunny design

    Antti Roppola> Roll on the paperless loo?

    Long time done:

    // we had a lecturer who *loved* the quote "the paperless office is about as likely as the paperless toilet", although when recounting the tale of my reacting with "sounds like a cack-handed argument to me" to absent peers I struggled to remember the attribution. In looking it up I discovered the above.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    @Sonya Fox

    Aussie bogs, an introduction:

    1. A bathroom is often a larger room with a bath, toilet, handbasin and shower.

    2. A toilet is a dedicated room with just a toilet and maybe a slim handbasin. *

    3. A dunny is a small room (or free-standing) outhouse with a toilet.

    Nothing weird there.

    1 to 2 come in many sizes.

    3 is traditionally small, apart from the 'family-units' or 'double-bangers' of old"

    * and very often comes with a faded picture of that tennis lady scratching her bare ass...

  43. Mothballs


    This problem could be easily solved if they designed smaller Australians.

  44. Adrian Esdaile

    More laws

    ...or less idiots.

    Your choice.

  45. Francis Offord

    Always take plenty of reading matter.

    Shouldn't there have been 3 of them? When it comes to survival look at Isiah chapter 36 verse 12 for pointers.

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