Cold Weather Should be sNOw Problem

Environmental monitoring isn’t something a lot of people think about, until something happens to them.

As I watched the snow fall from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the comfort of my cubical at work, I thought about what a nightmare traffic was going to be on the drive home. We had gotten the first snow of the year and it was a big one. Throughout the day my phone had blown up with notifications about car accidents, power outages and school closings…comforting. I grabbed my jacket and trudged through the snow in my heels to get to my car, and that’s where I sat for the next hour. Yes, you read that right, the drive that normally takes me about 10 minutes took me an hour. 

I unlocked my apartment door excited to throw on sweatpants and cozy up under a blanket on my couch, I took one step inside and heard a very distinct *squish* it was then I realized my floor was sopping wet. I turned on my lights and come to find out that the majority of my apartment was sopping wet, because on this beautiful snowy, cold, and blow freezing day a pipe had burst in my apartment. I can hear your sympathy sighs from here, and believe me, I am sighing with you. 

Inconvenience is Inconvenient

I marched stomped down to the leasing office to tell them about the condition of my apartment, I arrived to find the lights off and the door locked. I called the emergency number listed on the door of the leasing office and hear a friendly voice; this was shortly followed by my not so friendly voice. Of course they felt terrible and apologized profusely for the inconvenience, but does apologizing for the inconvenience ever make-up for the inconvenience? We all know the answer to that question. I was told to pack a suitcase because my apartment would be “under construction” for the next few days. So, I packed my suitcase with enough clothes for the vague amount of days I would be gone, grabbed my dog and headed back out into the storm and drove to my parent’s house.  While I sat in my car for another hour, for a drive that normally takes about 20 minutes, my anger slowly grew because I couldn’t help but think that this could have all been prevented.

With Environmental Monitoring I Could’ve Been on my Couch in Sweatpants…

Within an apartment complex or any building, environmental monitoring goes beyond sending an email reminding residents to leave their sinks dripping due to freezing temperatures. Environmental monitoring helps mitigate potential threats to people, property, business operations and convenience/comfort. Automated monitoring and alerting details a situation to responders via their designated communication devices and alleviates emergency situations before they occur. In this particular situation, environmental monitoring would’ve benefited my apartment complex because individual people don’t spend their day manually checking temperatures and may not be able to access pipes within the walls of a building in the first place, instead they are forced to be reactive to puddles on the ground.  By placing temperature sensors within the fabric of the building and monitoring their range, we can alert the proper personnel through automation before it is too late or as soon as an accident occurs. This means I wouldn’t have needed to pack a suitcase because my maintenance staff would have addressed the issue proactively.  Another key piece to this puzzle is the ability to alert the right people at the right time, an alert going off in the maintenance man’s office doesn’t do us any good when he’s at home in his sweatpants. Instead we can notify the person who is able to respond if a pipe bursts at 2 am, because more than likely that is going to be a different person than someone able to respond if a pipe bursts at 2 pm. So, when the pipes in my apartment complex started to drop closer and closer to freezing temperatures, the correct people could’ve received a notification alerting them of this information. From there the proper action could’ve been taken and I could’ve been in sweatpants, yes I’m still bitter.

Environmental monitoring isn’t something that a lot of people think about, until something happens to them. They think of power outages, HVAC failure, and bursting pipes as just another part of life but I think I speak for everyone when I say that it’s a part of life that we could do without. My sweatpants do so much for me, they deserve better than to be cheated and used as a rag to mop up the mess, and your sweatpants deserve better too! 

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