Tag Archive | propane smell

Disaster Narrowly Averted

Today I am really grateful that I woke up alive. I might not have, more than usual.

Yesterday I came in after being outside for a couple hours, and noticed an unpleasant smell that I didn’t recognize. I wondered if it had come in on Wren, who had rolled in something; or with the load of wood I had just rolled in. I took out the compost and the garbage in case it was in there, and after a little while it seemed to have dissipated. So I went on with my evening, and went to bed, and went to sleep…

In the morning, traces of the smell remained. I thought Getting coffee going will get rid of it… As I stood in the kitchen it dawned on me slowly that maybe it was propane. I looked down at the stovetop and indeed one of the burner knobs was a fraction left of straight up. All evening, all night long, we’d been breathing propane. Fortunately the house is not hermetically sealed, in fact there’s a window upstairs with a permanent one inch gap. And I had not yet lighted a fire in the woodstove, and coffee was brewing in the electric maker: I’m grateful that this morning I chose not to light a burner for the kettle or espresso pot. Whew! Disaster narrowly averted, and purely by chance.

What frightens me the most about the whole thing is that I didn’t recognize the smell. It’s happened a few times in the past that a burner was on, or the outdoor tank had a leaky valve, or long ago the trailer heater had a bad pilot light; so I know the smell of loose propane. But this time I did not recognize it. That calls into question my cognition, a little more sharply than the usual mindless mishaps of misplacing glasses, keys, forgetting why I stepped into the pantry. Those are all normal artifacts of a busy life. But smelling a rank aroma, deluding myself about its origin and then just letting it slide, well… that’s a slippery slope. Let’s hope it’s a one-off. I’m just really grateful I figured it out when I did; grateful it was a relatively mild day and I could open both doors and a downstairs window and let the house air for a few hours. Grateful I lived another good day so I can go back to sleep tonight.