Prepare for Fire Prevention Week!

With Fire Prevention Week starting on October 9th, we thought it would be a good time to discuss the simple ways you can protect both your home and your loved ones. Oftentimes, fires in the home start as a result of poorly maintained electrical equipment and appliances such as dryers. With the dry fall air taking over the hot days of summer, take a look at this checklist and make sure your home is safe!

 

1)      Maintain Dryer Lint Filter Screens: Busy moms and dads often leave laundry in the dryer while at work or picking the kids up from school. However, it only takes an extra piece of lint to start a dryer fire. Be sure to have a lint filter screen for your dryer, and make sure that you clean it every time you use the dryer! Consider the Whirlpool 349639 Dryer Lint Filter Screen, which  fits numerous name brand dryers.

2)      Keep Fireplaces Clean and Maintained: Ensure that you have a spark screen or glass door for your fireplace. If you have furniture close to your fireplace, a spark can easily start a fire.

3)      Regularly Change Furnace Filters: In the long list of things to do, remembering to change your homes furnace filters regularly probably falls to the bottom of the list. However, a clogged air filter can lead to poor indoor air quality at best, and carbon monoxide poisoning and chance of fire at  worst. These filters should be changed every 3 months. To take the stress out of remembering, purchase a 6 pack of filters (which is enough for the whole year!) and sign up for a free reminder service from Filters Fast!

4)      Be Careful with Cigarettes: While you might not be able to prevent Uncle Jim from smoking when he visits, you can make sure that it won’t become harmful to your home. Be sure to have a designated smoking area and be sure to completely put out ALL cigarettes and frequently clean the ashtray.

If you are concerned about smell, consider the Holmes Smokeless Ashtray Smoke Grabber, which traps smoke from a lit cigarette before the smoke gets dispersed throughout your home!

These simple solutions will help protect your family from the dangers of fire. Of course, it is also crucial to keep batteries changed on smoke detectors and to have an escape plan in place should a fire occur. However,  something as easy as cleaning your dryer lint filter and your furnace filters regularly will guard your home, belongings, and family.

Remember: Fire Prevention Week is October 9th- 16th 2011!

Improve Your Office Indoor Air Quality!

Do you work in office building? Chances are that you do, and chances are that you suffer from poor indoor air quality. With allergens, pollen and mold spores making their way into your office building, it is important to learn the easy ways you can improve the air that you breathe for most of the day.

Indoor air quality has a significant effect on your ability to breathe clearly at work. Poor indoor air quality can increase your risk of illness and lead to serious health problems. Fixing and maintaining good office indoor air quality involves many factors, including, “Maintaining good indoor air quality requires attention to the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system;” as the EPA outlined, it also includes, “the design and layout of the space; and pollutant source management.” (EPA.gov). Here are easy steps you and your office can take, to improve your office air quality:

1)      Do not block air vents: Make sure that your HVAC systems vents are clear from boxes or other materials to ensure that you are getting clean, filtered air throughout the entire office

2)      Be aware of furniture spacing: If possible, keep copiers, fax machines, desks and other office equipment away from the HVAC system.  This can restrict air flow and can also cause the HVAC to release too much cool air.

3)      Purchase air purifiers: If you did not take part in the planning of your building, chances are that there is not adequate ventilation in all areas. This will cause unpleasant smells in the air, which contributes to a poor indoor air quality. An air purifier will remove odors, particles, smoke, smog, and other contaminants from the air you and your coworkers breathe all day.

4)      Clean up water spills ASAP: spilled water and wet areas can lead to the growth of mold, mildew and other bacterial spores. This will get into the air that breathe and can cause health problems. If your office feels particularly “damp”, consider using a dehumidifier.

5)      Change filters regularly: If management doesn’t do so already, let them know the importance of changing air filters every 3 to 6 months. For ease, you can purchase a convenient 6 pack of air filters in whatever size you need that will last you the entire year!

With this fall promising to be one of the worst for allergies, it is important to do your best to create a healthy work environment. The 5 simple steps outlined above will keep your office air as clean as possible. This will prevent you from developing respiratory problems and help keep your allergies at bay.

Is Your Building Sick?

Sick building syndrome or SBS refers to situations where “building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified,” according to the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality website. This can occur either in a specific room or area, or throughout the building.

Symptoms can include:

  • headache
  • eye, nose, or throat  irritation
  • dry cough
  • dry or itchy skin
  • dizziness and nausea
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • fatigue
  • sensitivity to odors

Although the cause of the symptoms is usually not known, sufferers usually report feeling better soon after they leave the building. Poor ventilation, as well as heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) not effectively distributing air throughout the building, seems to be a major contributing factor in SBS.

Indoor and outdoor pollution sources can also contribute to SBS. Indoor air pollution sources include:

  • adhesives
  • carpeting
  • upholstery
  • manufactured wood products
  • copy machines
  • pesticides
  • cleaning agents

These sources can emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde.  Tobacco smoke emits high levels of VOCs, as well as other toxic compounds, and breathable particulate matter. The products of combustion, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and breathable particles come from burning sources like unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces and gas stoves.

Outdoor pollution sources such as motor vehicle exhausts, plumbing vents, and bathroom and kitchen exhausts can contribute to indoor air pollution. Also, biological contaminants including bacteria, molds, pollens, and viruses may breed in standing or stagnant water in various locations throughout a building.

Removing or modifying the pollutant source when it is known and controllable is perhaps the best way to resolve an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problem. Also increasing ventilation and air distribution can help the problem.  Another method is to use air cleaners. Finally, using furnace or air filters, especially high performance filters that capture smaller, breathable particles is a great way to alleviate SBS.