Smoke gets in our eyes
January 3, 2012
A couple of days before Christmas, yes – on two different nights, we were woken up during the night by our smoke alarms.
Careful checking of the whole house for smoke or flame – true, we should have evacuated and called the fire department, did not like the idea of standing outside in extremely low temperatures waiting for volunteer fire personnel to get out of bed, get equipped at the fire house, and arrive at a home that had no fire – found no evidence of fire inside, but a smell of smoke in the air outside only.
It seems that some local residents used a wood fireplace or furnace to heat their house during extremely cold nights, and the smoke cooled, failed to rise out of the area, and very slowly drifted in dead calm air to arrive at the fresh air intake to our heating system which was designed to provide a percentage of outside fresh air to improve ventilation in an otherwise sealed atmosphere. That works well if outside air is kept moving by wind currents, but with no wind at all, as has been the case for many days and nights recently, a cooled smoke cloud can sit or slowly drift without dispersal, causing a problem.
Since our air intake has no shutoff valve, our only recourse was to turn off the circuit breaker for the smoke alarms and also to remove the backup batteries. The alarm system has to stay disabled until we finally get some wind in the area.
Undispersed smoke may also be a health problem for some residents. We need a system advising people to not use wood fire when conditions warrant.