- I Could Have DIED! -
© - Tom Hyland - 02-11-09
The following TRUE STORY just happened last week. A copy of my letter to my FORMER Propane Supplier is being pasted, which is self-explanatory.
After surviving this ORDEAL, I gathered information from both Internet Websites as well as personal contacts, and I believe that the PUBLIC SHOULD BE WARNED!
The thing that amazes me, is that it doesn’t happen more frequently, to more people living in homes and trailers that are heated with PROPANE. A simple DROP IN TEMPERATURE, especially during the night, can cause the REGULATORS outside on your TANKS to FREEZE UP! You could wake up D-E-A-D !!!
WHAT IS OUR GOVERNMENT DOING ABOUT IT?
WHAT IS THE MEDIA DOING ABOUT IT?
THE ‘DAY AFTER’ IS TOO LATE -
DEATH COULD BE IMMINENT !
Anyone remember the aftermath of KATRINA, and the CHEMICAL FUMES in the THOUSANDS of FEMA TRAILERS?
THAT was from INSULATION, and in WARM weather -
Here in Baltimore last week, the thermometer dipped into the TEENS during the night! READ MY STORY!
AFTERMATH? I LEARNED SEVERAL LESSONS -
I WILL NEVER USE PROPANE (so-called ‘Safer’ heating fuel) in my home again!
No matter how expensive - Oil, Natural Gas, or Electricity -
they are ALL SAFER THAN PROPANE!
People have DIED - in BOATS, in TRAILERS, in permanent rural HOMES, in RV’s - either by ASPHIXIATION or EXPLOSION!
People with any kind of breathing or lung problems are also at HIGHER RISK!
WARNING - READ - LEARN - PROTECT YOURSELF !!!
Tom Hyland - Dumb Irish Mick LUCKY Survivor!
February 10, 2009
485 Mirabile Lane
Baltimore, MD. 21224
Mark Alexander, CEO. ? ANTON ?
Suburban Propane Corporation
One Suburban Plaza ?240 Route 10 West - P.O. Box 206 ?Whippany, NJ 07981-0206
Re: Account No. 1111-085044
I am writing to register a complaint. Your Manager, Cleve, in the Reisterstown, MD office is either incompetent, or totally uncaring!
1. Purchased my trailer in September, 2005 and assumed prior owners account. Am 68, Retired, no Funds, no Savings, no Investments, no Excess money - Period! Have faithfully paid $100.00 per month consistently, for three solid YEARS! Your supposed Senior Discount price to me is almost $4.00/gal. while Amerigas is about a Dollar lower. AND - I found out last year that I’m the ONLY customer of yours in this trailer park - how convenient!
2. Wednesday, February 4th, was sick as a dog, with suspected food poisoning, and spent entire day and night, alternating between bed, and diarrhea. Awoke Thursday morning at 7:00 am to a FREEZING trailer - NO HEAT - NO RANGE TO COOK ON - called and talked to your Emergency Service guy - he could do NOTHING! Told me to call back at 8:00. No one in office yet.
I did so, talked to a young lady, who said that the REGULATOR probably froze up - unless I PAID OVER $400.00 - WOULD NOT DELIVER! Asked to speak to Manager, Cleve, who told me the same thing! I did not have the money, but offered to write a check for $100.00, and pointed out that my last check sent was for $125.00, a Good Faith attempt at paying my Balance of $1.236.04 down. NO DEAL! NO SERVICE! He gave me NO ADVICE - NO WARNING - NOTHING!
3. I called my niece, who told me to come to her house in Catonsville, I could not stay in a trailer that was about 20 DEGREES! But, as I was about to leave, I smelled GAS in the kitchen, so I lit the two burner pilots, then the broiler pilot, then all four burners. Thinking then that all was okay, I kept trying to light the furnace pilot, but the main burner would not come on. So, I put the black pilot knob in the OFF position for safety. Returning to the kitchen, all four burners were now out, so I turned them all off, and LEFT!
4. On Friday, February 6th, when I returned to my trailer with a borrowed electric heater, I SMELLED GAS FUMES OUTSIDE - BEFORE I EVEN OPENED THE DOOR!
It was 3:45 in the afternoon, I put a handkerchief over my nose, rushed in and opened the rear door wide, having already propped open the front door. I was afraid that any light switch might BLOW ME UP - so I went outside, and got about 20 feet away from the trailer.
I WAS SCARED! I NEEDED HELP! AFTER CALLING BGE’S EMERGENCY GAS LEAK LINE, was told they could NOT help with PROPANE! So I called CLEVE again, and told him the situation. He very nonchalantly DISMISSED the drama, by telling me very matter-of-factly that the REGULATOR froze up, but when the temperature ROSE, it allowed propane to flow into my UNLIT PILOT LIGHTS! - As if this was just a routine, expected, natural occurrence!
I then said: “So, if I had stayed the night, I would have woken up DEAD, right?” He said: “It might have made you sick but you wouldn’t have died!”
I said: “Sure, until I got out of bed and lit a cigarette, and EXPLODED, right?” He said: “NO - that wouldn’t happen!”
When I asked what he intended to do about my dilemma he said: “I’ll have the route man stop by and turn off the tank valves.”
I said: “That’s it? I’ll tell you what - you might as well have him REMOVE YOUR TANKS - there is no sense in my paying to RENT empty tanks that you won’t fill! I’ll contact AMERIGAS and see if they can work with me for a constant $100.00 a month!” HAVE A NICE DAY!”
5. I spent Friday night and Saturday night AWAY FROM MY HOME AGAIN! On Sunday February 7th, when I returned, the FUMES were loaded up AGAIN! I propped open both doors AGAIN - then went out back to see if the tank valves were OFF or not - they seemed to be, but maybe they were FAULTY to begin with? Maybe that’s why my USAGE has been so high for 3 years? Who knows? Who cares? CERTAINLY NOT THE BIG ‘GOLIATH’ CORPORATION - SUBURBAN PROPANE!
6. So, for 2 days now I have been functioning on 3 little electric heaters - I’m sure MR. BGE WILL BE PLEASED! OH yeah - today, I SMELLED FUMES AGAIN! Went and LIT ALL 4 BURNERS, PUT A TIMER ON, AND THEY CONTINUED TO BURN FOR TEN MINUTES MORE! THEN, I TOOK EVERYTHING OFF THE STOVE, MOVED IT AWAY FROM THE WALL, AND TURNED OFF THE REAR MAIN FEED VALVE! AMAZINGLY - CLEVE DID NOT EVEN SUGGEST THIS!
In closing, I am not sure yet just what further ACTION may be taken, but rest assured - IF YOU DON’T REMOVE YOUR 2 TANKS FROM MY LOT - MY FEE TO YOU FOR STORAGE WILL BE $50.00 EACH - PER WEEK!
Everything in this letter is the absolute truth - there are no embellishments in order to aid my cause. Perhaps The Carroll County Times, or The Baltimore SUNPAPERS, or even Baltimore Magazine would be interested in such an article? WHY? Because THIS FIASCO could have happened to ANYONE, living in ANY TRAILER WITH PROPANE, ANYWHERE in this entire Country!
IT IS AN UNSAFE SITUATION THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDABLE!
A GOOD FRIEND, WHO IS A CONTRACTOR, TELLS ME THAT ALL OF THESE REGULATORS SHOULD BE PROPERLY INSULATED, IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE FREEZING OF THE APERTURES WITHIN!
MARK - do not bother to attempt to call me by phone - anything you have to say should be put in WRITING - WHY? I DON’T TRUST YOUR ORGANIZATION!
P.S. - CLEVE gave me your Name and an ERRONEOUS PHONE NUMBER - 1-973-887-5800 -- oh, I’m sure it was an honest mistake, right?
Thomas K. Hyland, Jr.
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|Reviewed by Flying Fox Ted L Glines
|Excellent article/story, Tom. Over many years of living in trailers, I have come to the conclusion that propane and their regulators were designed for recreational use (i.e., in nice weather) and are hazardous for use in below-freezing environments. I feel strongly enough about this to have gone all-electric in my own trailor. The ocasional power-outtage is preferable to DEATH by propane fumes or explosions.
Glad you got out of there and survived.
|Reviewed by J'nia Fowler
|Thank God your are alive to tell this disturbing story. I wonder how many people died of this same thing, thinking by family that it was just old age or an accident and there is no one to blame. Your letter and this story may save lives. I hope so. Hugs in a chilly climate, J'nia|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|WOW! Glad you mde it through; sorry you had to go through this, Tom! Powerful writing!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :(
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|What a horrific tale, my friend. Very glad to hear you made it through. And that corporate response doesn't surprise me one bit today, although I am a little surprised that you actually got to talk to a real person.
PS It was 60 Degrees here yesterday; warmer weather is happily headin your way. I knew old Groundhog Phil was wrong.