Tennessee summers are known for their oppressive, often dangerously high temperatures, but near record heat last week caused two oxygen tanks to explode in the back of a local woman’s car.
Debora Coggins, age 64, suffers from COPD and black lung disease. She spends most of her days inside her Pleasantville home tethered to oxygen tanks. Without them she can’t breath.
“If I run out of oxygen, I’ll have a stroke. The tanks are my lifeline,” she explained, pointing to a small tube that allows her to move the length of her mobile home.
Last week, when temperatures were in the high 90’s, Debora got a call from her daughter who was frantically trying to explain that the back windshield of her Ford Focus had mysteriously shattered. The culprit it turned out: two of Debora’s backup oxygen tanks.
The tanks had been sitting in the back windshield area of the car where direct sunlight was likely magnifying the light and causing the temperature inside the car to push well above 130 degrees. One of the tanks shots through the windshield and flew into a neighbor’s yard more than 100 yards away.
“My daughter calls me and she goes, ‘You owe me a back windshield!’ and I said, ‘What?’ and she said, ‘My window exploded, your tanks blew up!’” Debora recalled.
Fortunately no one was injured in the bizarre freak accident.
“I was shocked. Thank God no one was in the car. I would’ve had a heart attack,” she added.
As for the lesson in all of this, Debora said it’s simple: “Don’t leave your oxygen tanks in the car for no reason, and if you do in this heat, leave your windows rolled down.”