CFL Flourescent Light Bulbs: A Fire Hazard?

Yesterday we had the local Fire Department over! We weren’t really expecting company and we weren’t really ready for company but you never know when the guys will come over. But, they did.

Holly was in her room doing her homework. She ran over to the grocery store. We made lunch. Then she walked back into her room. She walked out and said, “Mom, my room smells funny!” My first reaction was, “Do you have any food in there?” You know, she is a teenager. She said, “No, mom, this smells really bad!” I went in there and sure enough it smelled like something burning and the room was foggy but no flames. I immediately told her to unplug everything and come outside.

We called 911.

We waited outside with the door open and still no flames. We stood outside talking to our neighbor next door.

The Fire Department came and they walked through the room and Holly’s bathroom. Nothing. They opened up the windows. They did not know where the smell was coming from. They warned us about Holly’s stuffed animals by the wall with the plug and told us we should move those. Okay, not a problem there.

Then they were stumped. They did not know where the smell was coming from even though they smelled it. With the windows open, the smell was going away.

They asked for my name and number, you know for information purposes and said to call if it comes back.

Then, they left.

So, the maintenance guys came in. For this reason, I love living in a condo/apartment. Any time something goes wrong, these guys are right on it. They fix everything.

Anyways, we decide to look at everything that my daughter had plugged in to see if there were any frayed wires. We looked at the stand up lamp by her bed and it was fine. We then looked at her lamp that was on her desk.

There is the culprit!

The CFL light bulb had burned and was cracked. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of our light bulb because the maintenance guy immediately took it out of our home and disposed of it. But it looked something similar to this.

burned-light-bulb

Someone asked me if it was a mounted lamp or if the light bulb was in some sort of enclosure. No, it was in just a regular lamp.

I did some further research on this subject and was concerned when I read this article written on the Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department’s website. So, I called the fireman that had just been to my house and he talked to me about the ballast of the light bulb and he was glad that we had let him know what it was and said that it was safe for Holly to be in the room. She just needed to leave her window open and clean her desk to make sure that there was not any left over mercury in her room. (Great, huh?)

I took care of that then read the article on Snopes about this and have come to the conclusion that this may have been just the way that these CFL lights burn out. I found the following on HomeFinders.com

According to National Geographic’s Green Guide, CFLs are perfectly fire-safe to use in homes:

Although a melted plastic base near the coil of the bulb might lead you to believe the CFL is a fire hazard, it is just the opposite. In fact, the melted plastic and burn marks are a sign that the bulb was working just as it should.

If you look at the plastic base, or ballast, of the light bulb, you should see a symbol indicating that the ballast is UL certified, which means that the plastic on the exterior can safely function during bulb operation and at the end of the bulb’s life. The fact that the plastic on your bulb’s ballast melted and turned black is totally normal, says John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager at Underwriters Laboratory (UL), the company that evaluates plastics for, among other things, flammability characteristics. A CFL generates light from an electric current that runs through glass tubing filled with gases.

The electrified gases emit ultraviolet radiation, which then comes in contact with a phosphorous lining on the glass, thus creating light. Bulbs burn out when the ballast overheats and an electronic component, the Voltage Dependent Resister (VDR), opens up like a fuse in your home’s fuse box, shutting off the circuit and generating heat and possibly a small amount of smoke. This might sound dangerous, but the VDR is a cut-off switch that prevents any hazards. The melted plastic you’re seeing where the glass coil connects to the ballast is simply a sign that the heat is escaping as intended in the design of the bulb.

So, with my past history of fire in the home, I don’t want to say that if you smell a burning smell and see smoke but no fire and you don’t know where it is coming from, not to be concerned, because I completely believe in better safe than sorry, but once the fire department does get there, be sure to check your CFL light bulbs and look to see if it has burned out and have the fire department dispose of it properly.

I am just grateful that yesterday was a holiday and that Holly and I were both home and we were quick to unplug the lamp and we didn’t wait to find out if it would in fact cause a fire. But there sure was the odor and smoke and the scare.

Has any of your CFL Lightbulbs burned out in your home yet? What was your experience?

Image Source: Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department

A Little Girl & a Fireman – Christmas Memory 1975

I thought that since Christmas is almost here that I would share with you one of my most favorite Christmas memories!  Some of my readers from last year might remember this story but since I have met so many new people this past year, I thought I would share it again!  It might even become a yearly tradition to share!

This is a true story!

I was about five years old.  I was living in Torrance, California.  It was about two days before Christmas.  I went to church with my mom and sister a day or so before this particular night.  At church, we were each given a gift, I received the most beautiful dolly.  I loved her.  I thought she was such a pretty doll.

As I was sleeping, I smelled something burning.  I did not open my eyes.  I just thought, “Oh, my mom must be baking cookies for Christmas!” (I should have known better, my mom never baked cookies ~ we always went to her friend’s house to bake cookies!)  Anyways, I didn’t bother opening my eyes ~ even though I smelled something burning! 

Then I heard my sister, who was sleeping across the room from me, screaming, “Fire, fire, fire!” 

Why I didn’t just jump up right then, I will never understand!

I looked down at the foot of my bed and there was the fire.  In. My. Bed.

I remember my mom coming in the room telling my sister to grab some clothes out of the closet, and then she told me to get up.  My mom grabbed a blanket and rushed my sister and I to wait in her car out in the  driveway.

Then the firemen came.  They had to pass our car to get in the house and they stopped and asked me if there was anybody still in the house.  I cried, “YES!!!!!” they asked, “Who???”  I said in the only way a little girl would say crying, “My Winnie the Pooh and Dolly!” and I looked right up at him and asked, “Can you save them? Please save my Winnie the Pooh and Dolly!” and they left to go do their work.  They came back and I asked, “Did you save them?” and he said, “No.”  I was so sad.  I cried and cried!

I also remember the summer before that Christmas, my grandma in Oklahoma had bought my sister and I a TV for our room and my mom had decorated our room while we were gone.  We had fun bedding and all was burned in the fire.  I was devastated!

So, after the fire was out, we went to the next door neighbor’s house and we were there for a while.  Then we went to another one of my mom’s friend’s house from church.  While we were there, still in the middle of the night, the phone rings.  My mom’s friend tells me that the phone is for me.  To my surprise, it was SANTA!!!!  Yes, that is right, SANTA called ME!!!!  They told me to take the call in the other room.  Sure enough, it sounded like SANTA!  SANTA told me that he saw what happened and he felt so bad for me that he sent the reindeers over to give me my Christmas present early and to go run in the other room to get it.  I went out to the living room and in the middle of the room, there was a BARBIE DREAM HOUSE!  For. Me.

I was so happy, I ran back to the phone and said, “Thank you, SANTA!!! Thank You!  Thank You!”

So the years past, and I get older and then I realized the truth about SANTA (for any kids reading this, that he must have been too busy at that time of year to think about me…lol)  So, I asked my mom, “Okay, who called me that night if it wasn’t really SANTA, I know it wasn’t grandpa, who was it that called me that night???”  She would never tell me.  I would keep asking and asking, because of course, I am stubborn that way.  I asked and asked.  Then finally she said, when you are 18 I will tell you who was SANTA and brought me my BARBIE DREAM HOUSE.  I knew it wasn’t my mom because she was just going through a divorce and we didn’t have money so I knew she didn’t buy it.

So the years passed on and I finally turned 18.

Since I had always wondered who it was that called that night ~ who made that night so happy for me ~ who was part of me learning when something bad happens something really good comes from it ~ I wanted to know who it was.

So, on my 18th birthday:

Me:  “Mom, okay, I am 18 now, who called that night of the fire?”

My mom: “The Fire Chief” 

(The Barbie Dream House was from Toys for Tots!)

To this day, I will never forget and I wish I could thank the Torrance Fire Chief. 

To all firemen out there, thank you for all that you do.  Thank you for your bravery and your compassion.  I will never forget what you did for me!

Please consider donating to Toys for Tots ~ you never know what lifelong memory you will be helping to create for a child!

Update:  I did not know until this morning searching for images that my Barbie Dream House was actually a Barbie Town House…lol!

Image provided by Matris Condicio

A Little Girl and the Firemen ~ Christmas Memory 1975

I thought that since Christmas is almost here, three more days, that I would share with you one of my most favorite Christmas memories! 

I was about five years old.  I was living in Torrance, California.  It was about two days before Christmas.  I went to church with my mom and sister a day or so before this particular night.  At church, we were each given a gift, I received the most beautiful dolly.  I loved her.  I thought she was such a pretty doll.

As I was sleeping, I smelled something burning.  I did not open my eyes.  I just thought, “Oh, my mom must be baking cookies for Christmas!” (I should have known better, my mom never baked cookies ~ we always went to her friend’s house to bake cookies!)  Anyways, I didn’t bother opening my eyes ~ even though I smelled something burning! 

Then I heard my sister, who was sleeping across the room from me, screaming, “Fire, fire, fire!” 

Why I didn’t just jump up right then, I will never understand!

I looked down at the foot of my bed and there was the fire.  In. My. Bed.

I remember my mom coming in the room telling my sister to grab some clothes out of the closet, and then she told me to get up.  My mom grabbed a blanket and rushed my sister and I to wait in her car out in the  driveway.

Then the firemen came.  They had to pass our car to get in the house and they stopped and asked me if there was anybody still in the house.  I cried, “YES!!!!!” they asked, “Who???”  I said in the only way a little girl would say crying, “My Winnie the Pooh and Dolly!” and I looked right up at him and asked, “Can you save them? Please save my Winnie the Pooh and Dolly!” and they left to go do their work.  They came back and I asked, “Did you save them?” and he said, “No.”  I was so sad.  I cried and cried!

I also remember the summer before that Christmas, my grandma in Oklahoma had bought my sister and I a TV for our room and my mom had decorated our room while we were gone.  We had fun bedding and all was burned in the fire.  I was devastated!

So, after the fire was out, we went to the next door neighbor’s house and we were there for a while.  Then we went to another one of my mom’s friend’s house from church.  While we were there, still in the middle of the night, the phone rings.  My mom’s friend tells me that the phone is for me.  To my surprise, it was SANTA!!!!  Yes, that is right, SANTA called ME!!!!  They told me to take the call in the other room.  Sure enough, it sounded like SANTA!  SANTA told me that he saw what happened and he felt so bad for me that he sent the reindeers over to give me my Christmas present early and to go run in the other room to get it.  I went out to the living room and in the middle of the room, there was a BARBIE DREAM HOUSE!  For. Me.

I was so happy, I ran back to the phone and said, “Thank you, SANTA!!! Thank You!  Thank You!”

So the years past, and I get older and then I realized the truth about SANTA (for any kids reading this, that he must have been too busy at that time of year to think about me…lol)  So, I asked my mom, “Okay, who called me that night if it wasn’t really SANTA, I know it wasn’t grandpa, who was it that called me that night???”  She would never tell me.  I would keep asking and asking, because of course, I am stubborn that way.  I asked and asked.  Then finally she said, when you are 18 I will tell you who was SANTA and brought me my BARBIE DREAM HOUSE.  I knew it wasn’t my mom because she was just going through a divorce and we didn’t have money so I knew she didn’t buy it.

So the years passed on and I finally turned 18.

Since I had always wondered who it was that called that night ~ who made that night so happy for me ~ who was part of me learning when something bad happens something really good comes from it ~ I wanted to know who it was.

So, on my 18th birthday:

Me:  “Mom, okay, I am 18 now, who called that night of the fire?”

My mom: “The Fire Chief” 

(The Barbie Dream House was from Toys for Tots!)

To this day, I will never forget and I wish I could thank the Torrance Fire Chief. 

To all firemen out there, thank you for all that you do.  Thank you for your bravery and your compassion.  I will never forget what you did for me!

Please consider donating to Toys for Tots ~ you never know what lifelong memory you will be helping to create for a child!

Update:  I did not know until this morning searching for images that my Barbie Dream House was actually a Barbie Town House…lol!

Image provided by Matris Condicio

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