Posts Tagged ‘Health and Saftey’

Keeping Cool: More than Comfort, In Crisis

July 2, 2013

Summer is in full effect and with it comes the heat!  The CDC has some great tips to help us get through this safely.

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  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Do not leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.

It’s no accident that air conditioning is at the top of the list.  It is the number one line of defense against the heat.   By all means get outside and enjoy the season, but make sure you have a safe place to retreat to when it gets too hot.

Keeping the AC in your home in good working order is more than a matter of comfort, it’s about safety!



Carbon Monoxide: Be Afraid, Take Action!

April 17, 2013

We’ve posted about CO in the past.  It comes up in the news too often, and it is something we should all be concerned about.   A case in Aspen, Colorado is moving to trial following the death of a family due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Aspen Daily News reported that According to the lawsuit, the boiler’s exhaust piping was disconnected, because it had been “neither properly primed, glued or sealed and was not securely attached, supported or braced in any way.”  They also found that the vent to pull fresh air in was not connected to the outside so it only recirculated CO in the home.

This seems like gross negligence, and the reason why installers need to be certified, as well as why codes are in place.   Even with this, systems fail when they are not maintained.

  • Install a CO monitor and check it annually much like a smoke detector.
  • Have your combustion appliances checked regularly.
  • Regular HVAC service calls are important.
  • Even better have a BPI certified auditor assess your home.  It is part of a very thorough inspection of not only water heaters, furnaces and boilers, but also gas ovens and fireplaces, some things HVAC technicians may not normally inspect.




Safely Finding Your Way Through the Hazards of Thanksgiving!

November 19, 2012

It’s that time of year again and I look forward to the family gathering so we can stuff ourselves like birds.  With the colder weather we close up our homes, so it is time to ensure that our heating equipment is in good shape, like I mentioned last week in talking about fall clean ups.

Here are a few safety tips for the kitchen:

  • Keep the cooking area clear of clutter:  Don’t overload a cook top with too many pots and pans. More heat and more confusion can increase the chance for burns and grease fires.  
  • Dress for the occasion!  Cooking means being near the stove and range.  Make sure you won’t get snagged or burned in the process.  Wear tighter fitting clothes or short sleeves in the kitchen. 
  • Turn handles in.  We can forget some of these simpler things, but there may be more going on that you are used to in the kitchen and more kids too!
  • Do not pour water on a grease fire.  Turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan is cooled, water will only make it worse!
  • Turn off the stove when you are done:  Easy to forget in a busy kitchen trying to get everything to the table.  Hot surfaces are part of it but, how well is your oven vented? Or is it?

This last tip reminds me of a few posts from last year.

I still subscribe to our Director of QA and Safety, Dave Abrey’s theory of sleepy guests.  It might not be the Turkey!

Be thankful, stay safe, and stay warm!

Enjoy the holiday!


Image courtesy of Grant Snider from

Helping and Staying Safe after the Storm

November 7, 2012

Housing is near and dear to us here at GreenHomes, and even closer is safe housing.  Hurricane Sandy has significantly changed what many have taken for granted just as we go into colder weather in the Northeast.  Tens of thousands have found themselves without a home because of the storm.  Many more have found themselves with extensive damage to their homes and a long struggle to recover.

There are many ways to support efforts to support those affected, the Red Cross is collecting donations, and Feeding America has been working to provide food and water for example.

It is also important to keep in mind how to stay safe as people return to their homes.  The CDC has some useful information about what to look for when coming home to water damage, the dangers of electrical issues, and mold.   For many our homes are no longer the safe havens they once were.

Losing power means often means relying on a generator, which is a great concern since they are one of the leading reasons for CO poisoning.    I often preach about the importance of checking heating and cooking equipment, having a CO alarm in your home, but when all goes wrong and we need a generator just to get by, it is even more important to make sure it will be helping not harming us.

The dangers of unvented fireplaces  also true for generators in your home or garage.  A garage or enclosed porch may be more connected to your home than you think.   When using a generator; always make sure there is enough fresh air to dilute any of the exhaust fumes.  Keep them out of your homes!

Help the people in need; stay safe please, no matter where you are!



Photo of the New Jersey coast from the National Guard

Testing: More than Efficiency for Safety’s Sake!

February 8, 2012

Recently one of our advisors in the San Jose area discovered a potentially deadly situation while doing routine testing in a customer’s home.   Robert Urbina, a Home Comfort Advisor with Residential Energy Pro’s, while doing combustion safety testing, discovered that carbon monoxide was quickly reaching an exceptionally high level in the vent of the homeowner’s furnace.   

According to BPI standards,  something every GreenHomes America partner follows before and after work, he discovered a situation that needed to be addressed immediately.  BPI recommends servicing equipment when CO levels climb above 25ppm, this reached well into the thousands.  I’ve mentioned the dangers of CO in a home, and in this situation the CO was still finding its way up the stack.  The danger occurs when something simple changes.  Airflow and pressures in a home are constantly changing whether from the seasons, a remodeling change or a new fan in the bathroom. What happens when, for example, the fans in the house unintentionally reverse the flow of toxic gasses from the chimney and draw it into the home?  Bad news for sure!

REP dispatched a service tech immediately to the home to further diagnose and repair the system.  Thank goodness it was a straightforward fix, and in short order the system was adjusted and retested.  Robert’s second reading was well within the limit, and as you imagine the homeowner was ecstatic!

For safety’s sake folks, have your heating system tested for more than just efficiency! 



Turkey, tryptophan and the real reason we all might get sleepy

November 22, 2011
Long established mythology is that the high levels of the amino acid tryptophan contained in turkey causes sleepiness after thanksgiving dinner.    While this may have some merit, turkey doesn’t really have much more of this than other meats, and soybeans have much more so it should be all those vegetarians eating their Tofurkies (yes there really are such things) that are zonking out.  It might have more to do with the one two punch of largeamounts of carbohydrates we eat.  You know, breads, stuffing, potatoes, sweets, eat much of that for thanksgiving dinner? 

One of my esteemed colleagues here at GreenHomes America has another theory, and it’s a deadly one.  Carbon Monoxide (CO).  Our ovens can produce a great deal of the stuff which is why we test them on every assessment.     We’ve covered some of the issues here.

 This is the only unvented gas appliance allowed by BPI in our homes, partially because we usually don’t have it on for long periods of time.   Your average service man does not check for CO regularly, and when you’ve got that 20 lb turkey to cook that oven will be on for half the day!    Some homes may have CO monitors but most of these monitor do not alert at low levels—even levels which can cause illness (and no CO is good CO).  Get a good CO meter if you don’t have one already.  Vent the kitchen when you are cooking and consider having a professional test your oven as well as the rest of your home.

Thanks and be safe!


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