Fireplace safety tips

Healthy Air |

8 Fireplace Safety Tips

3 minute read

The allure of cozying up by a crackling fireplace on a cold winter’s day is hard to resist. Unfortunately, along with that toasty warmth and relaxing glow, fireplaces—as well as wood and gas stoves—release dangerous pollutants into the air that can greatly affect the Indoor Air Quality in your home. Read our fireplace safety tips so you can cozy up by a fire on a cold’s winter day without any worries and be sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to protect your Indoor Air Quality.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Choose the Proper Fuel

Use smaller, dry pieces of wood to ensure a hotter and cleaner burning fire with less smoke. NEVER burn wet, treated, or painted wood.

Before Making a Fire

Open the glass doors, pull aside the screen curtains and place the kindling and wood inside. Then open the damper and a window to prevent a smoky room. (This may vary based on the construction of your fireplace.)

While Fire is Burning

Cool the chimney by keeping the glass doors open, but keep the screen closed to prevent sparks from jumping out. But make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything flammable.

Child Safety

Never leave a fire unattended when children are in the house. Install a safety screen to minimize any chances of burns if you have small children. Communicate the dangers of fires and heat as early as possible to your children.

Important Precautions

Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, testing them monthly and changing the batteries at least once a year. Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand and be sure it is easily accessible.

Cleaning

The firebox should be cleaned out at least once per week. During the cleaning, close the damper to prevent cold air in the flue from stirring up dust. Wear a dust mask and open a window to prevent negative air pressure. The firebox should be kept completely clean when the fireplace is not in use.

Burning

Coals can remain hot enough to start a fire for up to three days, so wait at least that long before removing any ashes. Levels of ash should be kept to one inch to act as insulation and allow the coals to heat faster and retain heat easier.

Routine Maintenance

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year. Checking your chimney for animal nests or blockages is important, even if it isn’t due for a cleaning, to ensure the smoke can escape properly. It’s essential to clean and inspect your fireplace and venting system to protect your air quality.

Use an Air Purifier

Even properly-kept fireplaces can release harmful emissions into your home. Aprilaire air purifiers can filter and remove damaging particles released from fireplaces to help your family breathe easy all winter long.

Indoor pollutants:

● Carbon Monoxide (CO): A colorless and odorless gas, CO interferes with the bodies ability to utilize oxygen. Minor exposure can lead to fatigue, dizziness, weakness, headaches, confusion, and nausea which can progress to loss of consciousness and death if CO levels rise. To ensure the safety of you and your family, installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors and oxygen-depletion sensors is necessary.

● Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2): NO2 is one of the leading outdoor air pollutants, but can also form indoors when wood or natural gas are burned. It can cause a number of harmful effects on the lungs, including reduced lung function, worsened coughing and wheezing, increased inflammation of the airways, and increased asthma attacks.

Particles: Particulates released during the burning of wood or gas can cause significant damage to the lungs. Difficulty breathing and/or aggravated existing conditions can result as well as particularly asthma, bronchitis, and wood smoke allergies. A number of fireplace pollutants have been linked to cancer.

Sources:

https://www.aireserv.com/about/blog/2017/january/how-does-your-fireplace-affect-indoor-air-qualit/

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/wood-smoke

https://www.beyerboys.com/wood-burning-affect-indoor-air-quality/

How to Clean a Fireplace: 5 Hacks for a Safe and Warm Winter by the Fire

7 Safety Tips When Using Your Fireplace in the Winter

https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/how-to-get-your-fireplace-ready-for-winter-48090#chimney-inspections

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
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Fun-fall-activities-for-families

Family |

Hello Fall! Great Ideas For Family Activities This Fall

2 minute read

It’s hard to say goodbye to summer. Pool parties, barbecues, and flip flop weather have come to an end for the year. And as much as we’ll miss those summer days and nights, the changing leaves, crisp air, and warm fall scents leave little room for disappointment. We’ve piled up a bunch of family activities for some of the best ways to spend this glorious time of year with the ones you love.

Outdoor Fall Activities

It’s a fall day. The sun is shining and warm. There’s a slight chill in the air, with a breeze that rattles the drying leaves on colorful trees. This balance is the perfect recipe for a day spent outdoors.

Grab some inspiration from these ideas for outdoor activities in that idyllic fall weather:

● Apple picking
● Farmer’s Market
● Pumpkin Patches/Hayrides
● Fishing
● Get lost in a Corn Maze
● Go to a Football Game/Play catch
● Hike/Nature Walk/Scavenger Hunt
● Haunted House
● Raking leaves for jumping in of course
● Family bike ride
● Petting zoos
● Hide and Seek/ Ghost in the Graveyard with glow sticks
● Go Camping/ Stargazing
● Take a fall foliage drive
● Run a 5k

Indoor Fall Activities

Rain in the forecast? Allergies acting up? Sometimes an afternoon spent indoors is the best feeling on a fall day. Plus, with fewer hours of sunlight you might be forced to spend some nights in.

No problem at all, check out these indoor activities that will keep the family together and happy all season long:

● Carve/decorate a pumpkin
● Toast Pumpkin Seeds
● Try a new apple recipe
● Game night/Puzzles
● Bowling/ Go-karting
● Create a care package for our troops
● Children’s Museum/ Library visit
● Rock climbing/Trampoline Park
Can your fruits and veggies
● Make a Gratitude Tree
Leaf Arts and Crafts
● Plant an indoor herb garden
● Tell stories around the fireplace
● Halloween Movie Marathon
DIY family Halloween costumes

Sources:
https://www.care.com/c/stories/3774/101-fun-fall-activities-for-kids/

https://www.womansday.com/life/g2618/fall-activities-for-families/

https://www.countryliving.com/life/g2633/fall-bucket-list/

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Healthy Humidity | Wellness |

Productivity Tip: 3 Ways Humidity Helps You Think Clearly

2 minute read

Ideal indoor humidity is good for your well-being. It helps reduce the risk of infections like the flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis, and it can help prevent nosebleeds and itchy skin when the air is dry.

But…could Healthy Humidity also impact your ability to think clearly?

79 years old is the average age. You’ll spend 70 of those years indoors and a majority of that will be in your own house.

Healthy Air is clearly important and needs to make up a majority of your life. Healthy Air is comprised of balanced humidity, air purification, and ventilation.

However, that means approximately 20 years of your life are spent working in an office, learning in a classroom, or driving to and from several other indoor environments – all of which require increased concentration.

Fortunately, studies show that healthier indoor air can help increase overall productivity stating, “task-related performance is significantly affected by human perception of Indoor Air Quality.”

Our productivity tip this winter? Simply humidify the air!

Benefits

Fewer Sick Days

Since viruses thrive in dry air, using a whole-home humidifier eliminates their ability to affect your family. That means you and your loved ones can enjoy a truly healthier home, which naturally contributes to clearer minds.

Not to mention, healthy homes lead to healthy bodies, which means less time away from the office or the classroom.

Better Sleep

With better health comes better sleep. This is due to your body’s ability to focus on repairing your muscles and organs rather than warding off harmful viruses due to dry air. Not to mention, the National Sleep Foundation says proper humidity moistens your airways, reducing “irritating nasal passages, stuffed noses, and cracked lips.”

Using an Aprilaire whole-home humidifier to naturally lull you into a deeper sleep could contribute to increased energy and productivity for you and your family.

Lower Stress

Living an overall healthy life with better sleep can naturally decrease stress in your life. Pair Healthy Humidity with routine exercise, a healthy diet, and stress-relieving techniques, like meditation or yoga, to think more clearly this winter.

* * *

In the wintertime, dry air has a significant effect on air quality. While you can’t normally control the air quality at your office or in your kid’s schools, you absolutely have control over the air in your own home. Aim to keep the humidity in your home between 30% and 50% year-round for better health and a clear mind.

If you’re in need of an Aprilaire whole home humidifier that can help you and your family feel better and think more clearly, take the first step. Find a certified professional near you today.

Breathe easy. Think Healthy Humidity.

Sources:

https://www.halton.com/dh/BQA6fsW31kborn6yUg-dKBNvx0mHXmaclst5mkKo0WKyJCn3DhBnxJenwibP7_zBqeKH8HdkCSP2Sc73yYqmso6shclXBaZGm2gBXYEujHGJKfb0cn2rgrnW_HOPrnUJxYaSZY3NwDpKJSNYSR_-1aj2mCwJtux2dti88CE/The_effect_of_perceived_indoor_air_quality_on_productivity_loss.pdf

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-control-humidity-your-bedroom

https://www.aprilaire.com/find-a-pro

https://www.aprilaire.com/healthy-air/healthy-humidity

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

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Dry-air-and-flu-in-children

Healthy Humidity | Wellness |

Does Dry Air Increase the Risk of the Flu in Children?

3 minute read

Winter can be a magical time for children in dry winter climates. It’s the season of giving and it’s filled with snow days, sledding, ice-skating, and of course…plenty of delicious hot chocolate. Unfortunately, winter is also the time of year when viruses, like the flu, tend to creep up. And for children whose immune systems are still developing, the winter season can sometimes be cruel to those who aren’t prepared.

What Increases the Risk of Flu in Children?

Kids inhale about 50% more air than adults. Obviously, all that playtime activity is great for their social and physical development, but it places a strong emphasis on the need for Healthy Air.

In fact, it’s been proven that the flu virus thrives in dry air, making wintertime a sort of biological gauntlet for people with subpar immune systems: mainly growing children and elderly family members.

Plus, kids are often more careless when it comes to washing their hands or avoiding contagious children, leading to more opportunities for the flu to spread.

Identifying Types of Flu Viruses

The flu can manifest in three forms – Influenza A, B, and C – each of which mutate frequently, causing the need for annual flu shots.

Types A and B

According to Johns Hopkins, Influenza A and B are the two types of viruses commonly associated with “widespread illness” each winter. These two types most often include mutating strains that public health officials try to mitigate each season due to increased hospitalizations and even deaths.

Both animals and humans carry the Influenza A strain. This strain of the virus is the same strain in multiple historic pandemics such as the Swine Flu and Bird Flu.

Only humans carry the Influenza B strain.

Research estimates show that “Influenza A infections account for 75% of confirmed influenza infections overall.”

Influenza A and B share similar symptoms like fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and body aches.

Type C

Compared to Influenza A and B, Influenza C is seemingly a cakewalk in comparison, according to Johns Hopkins. This form of the flu doesn’t cause epidemics or the severe attention from public health officials like Influenza A and B. It can take the form of a mild respiratory illness or result in no symptoms at all.

How to Ease Symptoms of Flu in Children

There are some tried and true ways to ease symptoms of the flu in children. Keeping kids hydrated is critical. Beyond that, getting plenty of rest and performing saltwater rinses are other common ways to ease flu symptoms.

Some lesser known natural remedies like drinking apple cider vinegar, elderberry syrup, or green tea with honey may also provide relief – though, it may be harder to get your little one to sit down and enjoy those. (We know they can be picky.)

Truthfully, prevention is the best medicine. Dry air is often the culprit that leads to the spread of the flu each winter. Humidification perhaps may be the best flu prevention available.

In one study, schools with humidification showed only 30% of student absences were due to flu-like symptoms. Alternatively, schools without humidification showed 70% of student absences were due to flu-like symptoms.

In your home, whole-home humidifiers can make a big difference during the winter, giving your family peace of mind during the cool, dry season.

* * *

If your kids start showing signs of flu symptoms, talk to your pediatrician about flu shots and other medicinal options. At home, take the first step in preventing your family from illness this season with a whole-home humidifiers, or learn more about Healthy Humidity and its effect on our health.

Sources:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/influenza/influenza-flu-in-children

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102436/

Natural Remedies for Winter Colds

https://www.aprilaire.com/find-a-pro

https://www.aprilaire.com/healthy-air/healthy-humidity

Dry Air and Home Care for Elderly Family Members

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

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Dry-air-and-home-care-for-elderly-family

Healthy Humidity |

Dry Air and Home Care for Elderly Family Members

2 minute read

More senior citizens are moving in with their adult children than ever before. In fact, the number of elderly family members living in their children’s homes has doubled since 1995, according to AARP.

This only further stresses the need for Healthy Air.

Just as you’d prioritize creating a Healthy Home environment for your children, creating healthy living conditions for Mom and Pop should be at the top of your list as well – particularly in dry, cold climates.

We already know that dry air can lead to:
• Bronchitis
• Sinusitis
• Asthma
• Dry and Itchy Skin
• Influenza
• Nosebleeds

But how does dry air affect us as we age?

From a general standpoint, dry air has been shown to increase the spread of flu viruses, which can affect everyone in your home. For senior citizens, recovering from the flu is tougher than those with stronger immune systems. In fact, the flu can possibly even turn into pneumonia, which could have serious repercussions.

Additionally, elderly family members with asthma and COPD – or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – can experience lung spasms due to cold, dry air.

Even on a basic level, older generations are more susceptible to dry, flaky skin that can be uncomfortable, leading to cracking and chapping. This is may not seem as detrimental as the above examples, but itchy skin can certainly impact the quality of life for everyone in your home.

The effects of dry air are particularly worse in cold climates, often for one simple reason: furnaces.

In cold areas where the air is already dry, heating systems need to be used to heat the home. The problem is that furnaces also tend to further dry out the air, leading to arid environments and sick families.

Encourage your loved ones to:

  • Take advantage of available flu vaccines to prevent complications
  • Wear thick scarves that add moisture to the air they breathe
  • Reduce hot showers that can dry out skin
  • Moisturize often to reduce cracked or chapped skin
  • Hydrate as often as possible to keep their bodies in top shape
  • Use a whole-home humidifier to quell the effects of dry air

Moisture in the presence of dry air is beneficial for the whole family.

“The best way to keep the air in your home from getting too dry is by running a humidifier.” – Synergy Home Care

Per the EPA, aim to keep the humidity in your home between 30% and 50% year-round to help your elderly loved ones breathe easy.

* * *

If you’re in need of an Aprilaire whole-home humidifier, take the first step toward a happier, healthier home by having a certified professional assist you, or learn more about Healthy Humidity and its effect on our health.

Sources:

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2018/adults-live-with-children-fd.html

https://www.aprilaire.com/healthy-home/healthy-home-101/humidification-blueprint

https://www.comfortkeepers.com/info-center/category/senior-care/article/winter-health-risks-for-seniors

https://www.synergyhomecare.com/agencies/ct/stamford/ct01/blog/posts/2016/3/1/how-dry-air-in-the-home-can-affect-your-elderly-loved-one/

https://www.aprilaire.com/healthy-air/healthy-humidity

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

Learn More
Climate-change-latest-facts-and-figures

Environment | Healthy Air |

Climate Change: What Are the Latest Facts and Figures?

2 minute read

Climate change describes the complex shifts currently affecting our world’s weather and climate systems.

“Climate change encompasses not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts. All of those changes are emerging as humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, changing the rhythms of climate that all living things have come to rely on.” –The National Geographic

Current atmospheric levels of heat-trapping substances like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are higher than ever recorded in the last 800,000 years. Scientists have documented several impacts on the world around us.

Impact of Climate Change

  • Melting ice
  • Rising sea levels
  • More extreme weather conditions
  • Higher temperatures affecting wildlife and their habitats
  • Animal migration to cooler areas
  • Increased precipitation in many areas across the globe
  • Severe drought in other areas resulting in wildfires, loss of crops, and drinking water shortages
  • Some invasive species are thriving, like the bark beetles that feed on spruce and pine trees, leaving millions of forest acres devastated in the U.S.

Climate Change and Air Quality

The damaging effects on our outdoor environment are plentiful and obvious. Less recognized, or talked about, are the hazardous effects to our Indoor Air Quality due to this rapid rise in greenhouse gases.

The latest scientific findings on the effects of climate change on indoor air and public health are divided into two major categories. These changes result in lowered Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and Health.

Changes in the Outdoor Environment Due to Climate Change

  • Heat stress and deaths caused by heat waves
  • Dampness and mold caused by severe storms and flooding
  • Exposure to gaseous air pollutants due to wildfires
  • Increase in humidity and dust mite allergies
  • Indoor exposure to outdoor ozone resulting in respiratory health issues
  • Longer pollen season due to warmer temperatures

Adaptations To and Mitigation Of Climate Change

  • Positive and negative impacts from increased use of air conditioning
  • Positive and negative impacts from changes in building design and energy efficiency measures
  • Introducing low biomass stoves, which consume much less energy than traditional stoves

For more information on Indoor Air Quality and how it’s impacted by climate change, refer to Aprilaire’s resources on Healthy Air.

Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-effects/

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/climate-change-indoor-environment-and-health

https://iaqscience.lbl.gov/cc

https://health2016.globalchange.gov/air-quality-impacts/content/climate-impacts-indoor-air-quality-and-health-emerging-issue

https://iaqscience.lbl.gov/ieq-environment

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
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Effects-Of-Vaping

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Health Effects of Vaping

2 minute read

In the last decade, we have seen the rise in popularity of vaping and e-cigarettes.

Vaping and Its Effects

“Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah, and e-cigars are known collectively as ENDS—electronic nicotine delivery systems. According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale an aerosol containing nicotine or other substances. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are generally battery-operated and use a heating element to heat e-liquid from a refillable cartridge, releasing a chemical-filled aerosol.” –American Lung Association

What’s the Harm in Vaping?

E-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to combustible tobacco products. They are considered as a “safer” way to consume nicotine.

New research, however, is challenging that belief with more evidence about the risks of these products:

  • Highly addictive
  • Exposure to toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Inflammation of the lungs
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irreversible lung damage/ lung disease
  • Increased risk of heart attack

Environmental Impact of Vaping

Aside from the obvious health risks, our environment and air quality are also feeling the ill effects of e-cigarettes.

There has been a huge push in recent years to stop the use of single use plastic products like straws and k-cups, and yet e-cigarettes are just as environmentally irresponsible. Each JUUL cartridge, or pod, contains 200 puffs and is intended for a single-use.

Here’s a warning from Yogi H. Hendid, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, with a background in environmental philosophy and public health: “[E-cigarettes and vaping products’] endocrine-disrupting plastics, lithium-ion batteries, and electronic circuit boards require disassembly, sorting, and proper recycling and disposal. Their instructions do not say anything about disposal. Electronic waste (e-waste) already presents a daunting environmental quandary and is notoriously difficult to recycle. When littered, broken devices can leach metals, battery acid, and nicotine into the local environment and urban landscape.”

As the debate over how to regulate this e-cigarette epidemic continues, it is just as important to consider the environmental effects as well as the immediate and secondhand effects of the products.

Sources:
https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/3-ways-juul-harms-environment

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping

https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/e-cigarettes.html

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Teens-Who-Use-E-Cigarettes-are-Exposed-to-Carcinogenic-Compounds.aspx

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/10/health/vaping-outbreak-2019-explainer/index.html

https://theconversation.com/e-cigarettes-and-a-new-threat-how-to-dispose-of-them-105096

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
Breathe a sigh of relief.

Learn More