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Winter got off to an early start this year…

3 minute read

Polar Vortex Signals Early Winter

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

Winter got off to an early start this year. Much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south. Early predictions by AccuWeather suggest the polar vortex will provide multiple blasts of cold air this winter. The one bit of good news is that the mass of arctic air should march in and then retreat, as opposed to lingering for several months.

However, in mid-November record lows were shattered across the country and nearly 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered in snow – the highest percentage since NOAA began tracking the figure, according to The Weather Channel.

Protecting Loved Ones from the polar vortex

While the polar vortex will make heading outside a miserable experience, it will make sitting inside less fun too. Families should prepare now for what will be another long winter. Homeowners who have not had their furnace system checked and cleaned need to do so. Also consider how you will deal with low humidity levels. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture that is in the air. As the relative humidity (RH) drops, the air begins to pull moisture out of anything that it can – including people.

When cold outdoor air is brought into the home and heated, indoor relative humidity drops significantly. Because the furnace runs non-stop during a polar vortex, homes get very dry. Dry air causes a host of health and comfort issues, including:

  • Itchy, dry eyes
  • Cracked and itchy skin
  • Static shocks
  • Dry, itchy noses
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat

Don’t Hang Your House Out To Dry

Humidity control is also integral to protecting a house and keeping heating bills down. Adding humidity when heating allows people to feel comfortable at lower temperatures. Energy.gov states that turning a thermostat back 10 – 15 degrees for eight hours can reduce heating bills by 5 – 15 percent a year. During a polar vortex, keeping the thermostat down a few degrees could quickly add up to big savings.

Just like people, a house also “feels” the pressures of a polar vortex. Dry air can cause expensive electronic devices to fail, create cracks in wood floors and damage instruments and furniture. Ensuring that dry air doesn’t suck the life out of a house requires adding moisture throughout the heating season. A family’s daily routines, such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry add some moisture to the home each day – but not enough to maintain optimal levels.

How to Control the Humidity in Your Home

Humidifiers are designed to efficiently and effectively control indoor RH during the winter months. Some people sleep with a small humidifier by their bed to prevent a dry throat in the morning, or purchase larger units to raise the RH in an entire room.

Many homeowners can also benefit from whole-house humidification solutions. A whole-home humidifier adds moisture to every room by using the duct system of the furnace. Installed by an HVAC contractor, whole-house humidification products can also automatically change the amount of moisture being added depending on variables such as indoor and outdoor temperature. By continually monitoring and controlling how much humidity is added, automatic humidifiers raise RH without causing condensation to form on windows or walls.

St. Vincent de Paul

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2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

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We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

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Experiencing the Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

Before the Fight For Air Climb

Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.

This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.

They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.

Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.

During the Fight For Air Climb

One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.

Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.

Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.

With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.

After the Fight For Air Climb

Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.

As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.

Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.

To join an upcoming climb in a city near you, visit www.lung.org/aprilaire.

flights

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Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer