Emergency Indoor Air Quality Tips for Winter Power Outages
Even here in Ontario Canada, we are still far too dependent on electricity to supply our winter power needs.
But where power outages in summer bring one set of challenges, surviving a winter power outage during the cold season is an advanced challenge – even for experienced Canadian snowbirds!
This is especially true in this pandemic year when our options for congregating together in public shelters and pooling our resources with friends and neighbours are much more limited.
It is imperative to consider how best to stay safe, healthy and warm inside your own home space as this unprecedented winter weather continues.
Keep reading for more information on the dangers of power outages in Ontario, Canada from our experienced CleanAir Solutions technicians in Hamilton.
4 Special Indoor Air Quality Concerns During Ontario Winter Power Outages
If you have ever once survived a power outage during one of Canada’s notorious winter storms, you are not likely to forget it.
However, what you may not have been so conscious of in past years is the sudden sharp decline in indoor air quality that often accompanies a winter power loss.
This toxicity of our indoor air is directly linked to the types of emergency backup power sources we use to stay warm and fed during a power outage.
These are the most concerning indoor air quality toxins you are likely to generate by using these backup power sources:
1. Carbon monoxide (CO).
Carbon monoxide (CO), aka the silent killer, is that odourless, colourless gas that kills hundreds of people each year – most often during the winter months.
Along with idling car engines and malfunctioning furnace pilot lights, backup generators are famous for CO emissions, which take only minutes to kill.
2. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Volatile organic compounds could as easily be called the “toxic cocktail” of gases that can be found in everything from paints and thinners to new carpeting and vehicle interiors.
They are also present wherever butane or gas is being burned, which makes VOCs a frequent hazard during power outages.
3. Smoke, ash and micro-particulates.
There is no doubt sitting around a crackling fire is an instant mood-lifter…for everyone but your lungs.
These are the same smoke, ash and micro-particulate toxins that have been implicated again and again in secondhand smoke-related lung cancer in non-smokers.
The one and only toxin that can go toe-to-toe with secondhand smoke in triggering new cases of lung cancer in non-smokers is radon gas.
Radon is a year-round natural hazard in many areas throughout Canada.
It tends to build up inside homes in the winter, when we keep our windows shut and the ground is too frozen to allow as much radon to release naturally to the outside air.
You Toxic Indoor Air This Winter
Why mention CO poisoning now?
Because the symptoms of CO poisoning are scarily similar to the symptoms of flu.
You may initially think that your dizziness, nausea, headache, body aches, burning eyes and mental fogginess are warning signs of a winter cold or the flu.
You won’t have time to discover you are wrong if it is really carbon monoxide causing your symptoms.
Your number one and ONLY guaranteed defence against carbon monoxide fatality is to install a battery powered (NOT electric) carbon monoxide detector and be sure to maintain it properly.
You simply cannot be too careful when it comes to this potentially life-saving indoor air quality monitor.
NOTE: It nearly goes without saying that you should also have working battery powered (NOT electric) smoke alarms and radon detection alarms installed. Be sure to test and service these systems faithfully at the same time you test and service your CO detector system.
What Not to Do to Generate Heat During a Winter Power Outage
Many of the other heat sources that generate the majority of indoor air quality concerns during winter power outages can be smelled in advance.
The trouble here is that most of these generate carbon monoxide along with VOCs, particulates and other airborne poisons.
Any combustion appliance is capable of causing health symptoms that range from mild to fatal.
For anyone who is living with compromised lung capacity due to COPD, COVID-19, lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma or even severe seasonal allergies, the health impact can be severe.
This is why you should never use any type of camping stove or camp heater indoors or even in enclosed outdoor spaces during a winter power outage.
Remember, if you are using any type of smoke, radon or CO detector that relies on electricity for power, these will become non-operational during a power outage. You will need to have backup detectors for these times.
Protect Yourself and Your Lungs This Winter With Air Quality Testing
The number one way to protect yourself and your lungs this winter begins with indoor air quality testing.
You need to know what is in your indoor air before you can take measures to remediate and clean the air inside your space.
In 72 hours, you can learn exactly which toxins are causing chronic health symptoms and impacting your immune system and put measures in place to counteract these.
Don’t let a power outage take down your health along with your power supply. We can help you plan ahead to make sure your home is a safe place to shelter.
CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, Is Your Indoor Air Quality Expert
No Ontario Canada winter is ever completely predictable. This is especially true during this pandemic year.
Our highly trained air quality technicians can help you breathe safely while sheltering in place during a winter power outage.