The Masque of the Green Death

It’s Sunday. We have snacks and beverages ready. We have friends en route. We are excited about watching my team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, whip up on the Denver Broncos. We have smoke and the smell of electrical fire?!?!

I quickly accounted for the kids, my wife, and dogs – all safe. I then started examining the house to see where the fire is. All electrical outlets, light fixtures, the dishwasher, and the oven all check out OK. I crawled up into the attic to examine visually and olfactorily and found nothing. It must be in the walls or inside the AC unit.

So we called the fire department who told us to wait outside. I grabbed the family, our safe, and my laptop bag and headed outside. They only took a couple minutes to show up in two trucks with lights and sirens blazing. They came in and examined the whole house with infrared tools and found nothing. After about 10 minutes of looking around, even inside the AC unit, they came out and pulled me inside. They had the couch pulled out and were looking down at my WIFI router and cable modem (I keep it out of sight…). I think they were going to say it was one of those when a firefighter leaned over a lamp to look behind the couch. He found it.

It wasn’t until he leaned over the lamp that he smelled the burning. Our compact fluorescent lightbulb had burned up. The lamp wasn’t even on. The firefighter said that there is a transformer inside that converts the voltage and that is what is burning up. He said they were too new to the market to know if they were an actual fire hazard but stated that they had been on a bunch of calls for the same reason.

This is the second one that has burned up in only a week. When the first one burned I was sitting right there and watched as sparks shot out and the bulb burned up. I assumed it was the lamp and got rid of both the lamp and the bulb.

If I decide to be more green and use CFLs in my house I am reducing my carbon footprint. But what happens if the CFL burns my house down and I have to build a new one? I’d say my carbon footprint would be significantly higher than if I used a typical incandescent bulb.

Green is “cool” right now and is something that the world needs. But given the option of using a new technology that has already proven, to me, to be a hazard I think I’ll have to opt to be non-green and keep my family safe.

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Jason McDonald

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