Posts Tagged ‘Battery Check’

Spring Forward and Fall Back

Sunday, November 1st, 2015
Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time

It is that time of year again when we turn the clocks back one hour and prepare for shorter days. The act of turning the clock back one hour in the fall and advancing it one hour in the spring is a helpful reminder to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should both verify that they are functioning properly and insert new batteries. Remember to do this for both your home and your place of work. Remind your employees to do the same for the safety of their families and homes.

I nearly learned this lesson the hard way as I recently rented a town home with an option to purchase it. I practice what I preach and so replaced the batteries twice yearly. It was not until I had a home inspection performed, in connection with my interest in purchasing the property, that I learned that fresh batteries didn’t help, as the smoke detectors were defective.

The home inspector also surfaced other safety hazards that are serious violations of the local housing code and documented them in a 49-page report. These hazards were not visible to me so I had no idea of the risks to which I was exposed. In particular, the inspector found that the hot water heater had been installed by an unlicensed contractor working without the required permit and that the appliance was recalled by Sear’s for having a defective valve. The homeowner’s unlicensed contractor didn’tĀ install it properly and it leakedĀ carbon monoxide. The homeowner/landlord also ignored repeated communications from Sears offering to replace the hot water heater at no charge. (The inspector and I verified that Sears did have the correct contact information for the landlord. Of course, to be clear, Sears had no way of knowing that the landlord did not properly install the appliance and caused other health hazards. Sears was certainly not at fault.)

As CO exposure kills red blood cells, a simple lab test can determine the volume of dead red cells circulating in the bloodstream. So my primary care physician ordered tests to check for carbon monoxide poisoning and for blood lead levels. Investigation revealed that this particular hazard existed for eight years. One of the previous tenants in the property was a divorced dad with custody of three children, children who were unknowingly breathing in carbon monoxide – not enough to kill them, but enough to cause symptoms. It is a scary thought that you have to extra diligence as not all states require rental permits to verify that tenants are safe. I wanted to share that experience to show why you cannot be too careful.