Drought: The Basics

Drought: Sensible Water Use

Fire Safety and Prevention: Wildland Fires

Fire Safety at Home

Flood and Flash Flood Safety

Flood Preparedness

Flood Safety: Turn Around, Don't Drown

Flood: Cleaning Carpets and Floors

Flood: Cleaning Linens and Bedding

Flood: Cleaning the Home or Business Property

Flood: Dishes and Utensils

Flood: Drying Books and Valuable Papers

Flood: Record Keeping After the Flood

Flood: Returning Home After the Flood

Flood: Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria

Heat and Athletes

Heat and People with Mental Illnesses

Heat Related Illnesses

Heat Related Illnesses and the Elderly

Heat Related Illnesses in Youth

Heat: Staying Cool in Extreme Heat

Household Chemical Emergency

Household Chemicals and Hazardous Materials


Hurricane: Preparedness for Boaters

Hurricane: Before, During and After the Storm

Hurricane: Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria

Lightning: Awareness and Safety

Lightning: Outdoor Safety

Lightning: Questions and Answers

Lightning: Quick Facts

Lightning: Safe Shelter and Indoor Safety

Pandemic Flu

Red Tide (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning) Safety

Summer Storms: Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria

Terrorism Preparedness: Get the Facts


Winter Safety: Preventing Hypothermia

Winter Safety: Wood Burning and Lung Health

Winter Storms: Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria

Winter: Your Car's Preparedness Kit

Home and Family: Getting Started

Plan Together for an Emergency

Build a Disaster Supply Kit for Your Home

Make a Family Communications Plan

Stay Informed

Be Sure of Your Information

Carbon Monoxide Safety in Power Outages

Home First Aid Checklist

Animals: Livestock Preparedness

Animals: Preparedness for Horse Owners

Animals: Preventing Barn Fires

Volunteering in a Disaster

Making Donations to Disaster Areas

Financial Disaster Planning

If You Have to Leave Your Home

NOAA Weather Radio

Your Grab-N-Go Bag

If You Have a Disability

Alternative Heat Source Safety

Eau potable, mesures de sécurité

Preventing or Thawing Frozen Water Pipes

Recommandations à suivre pour les puits inondés

Reporting Severe Weather

Returning Home: Record-Keeping

Take Care of Your Emotional Health

Business Preparedness: Getting Started

Camping Safety

School Preparedness: Getting Started

School Preparedness: Resources

Summer Barbecue Safety

Animals: Pets and Livestock

Food Safety: Frozen Foods

Food Safety: Consumer Guidance

Food Safety: General

Lyme Disease Safety

Mold: Questions and Answers

Tree Cutting and Trimming Safety

Turkey Day Safety

Animals: Livestock First Aid Kit

Business Preparedness: A Checklist

Community Preparedness: The Municipal Role

Flood Insurance

If You Use Child Care: Preparedness Guide

Insurance Questions for Small Business Owners

Is Your Town StormReady?

NFIP and the Community Rating System

Planning for Emergencies: Insurance

Planning for People with Disabilities

Preparing for a Technology Disaster

Rip Current Safety

Service Organization Preparedness: Getting Started

Shelter-in-Place? What is that?

Animals: Birds, Snakes, Hamsters and their friends

Chain Saw Safety

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

Community Preparedness: Many Pieces with a Single Goal

Drinking Water Safety

Generator Safety

Flood: Cleaning your Clothes

IRS Tax Center - Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses

Earthquakes: What You Should Know

Earthquakes: What To Do Before

Earthquakes: What To Do During

Earthquakes: What To Do After

Emergency Supplies and Grab-n-Go Bag

Lightning: The Reality for Lightning Strike Victims

Lightning: The Science

Mold: Clean-up

Communicating Before, During & After Disasters

Earthquakes: Poster of Occurrences in Maine (Adobe .pdf format)

Earthquakes: Poster for Finding Home Hazards (Adobe .pdf format)

Winter Safety: If Stranded with your Vehicle

Winter Safety: Safe Snow Removal

Winter Safety: Removing Snow from Roofs

flood photo

Floods are not exciting and not fun. They are the most frequent and damaging disaster in Maine, and bring pain and destruction. Review your insurance and make your plan today.

Turn Around, Don't Drown (TADD) is a NOAA National Weather Service campaign to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving a vehicle through flood waters

Scene from the 1987 flood.

flood photo

The biggest part of being prepared is getting good information. Get familiar with National Weather Service terminology to understand weather forecasts.

huricane map

The 1938 Hurricane caused untold damage in Maine even though it tracked up the Connecticut River Valley, well to our west. NOAA image.

hurricane fran map

Although the winds of Hurricane Fran missed us in Maine, her tropical moisture gave us catastrophic flooding in York and Cumberland Counties. NOAA image.

hurricane juan map

Hurricane Juan took aim at our neighbors in Nova Scotia, and caused millions of dollars in damage. NOAA image.

hurricane map

Listen to Leon ...

lightning photo


Lightning can strike up to ten miles ahead of, or ten miles behind a thunderstorm

Weather can change in an instant in the winter time or anytime. Understand weather terms so you are always prepared.

Planning starts with talking.

Planning starts with talking. Talking with your family, talking with your neighbors, talking with your local officials.

You can start your kit by bringing together things you already have, and then little by little buying the things you need.

Start at the dinner table. Gather all family phone numbers and write them down. Decide how and where to meet up in an emergency. Simple steps...

The single most important thing you can do in an emergency is make sure you have good information about what is going on, and what to do.

volunteer maine logo

Visit Volunteer Maine (see link below) to learn about opportunities to help, before, during or after emergencies.

Mark Trail would never go out in Lost Forest or anywhere else without a NOAA Weather Radio

NWS logo

Taking pictures is a very effective way of showing the damage to your property. If you need a camera, remember the disposable cameras you can buy in a grocery or drug store.


Cleo the cat was being watched over by her owner when this photo was taken, after the Ice Storm of 1998. Many other animals are not so lucky. Pets and livestock need your help to be safe during an emergency

turkey cartoon

When all the family is around, it's also a great idea to gather everyone's phone numbers, e-mail addresses, text messaging addresses -- the first steps to a family communications plan.

developed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health & Industry, July 2008.

Hazardous materials response teams train in Augusta. MEMA Photo.

Floods happen, even where they are least expected. (Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Photo)

After a disaster, can your business recover?

Flooding in Aroostook County - 2008

Will you be protected if a disaster strikes your community?

Most companies rely on technology. Are you protected from a technology failure?

During an emergency, resources must come together. Service Organizations play a critical role. (MEMA Photo)

disaster scene

There's no way to know when a disaster will strike. You can help keep your community protected.

Remember: If you store water in your own bottles, rotate it every six months. If you buy bottles and keep them sealed, you can keep them for at least a year, or as recommended by the bottler.

earthquake logo

Many lightning strike victims survive, but their lives are changed forever.

Minimize your risk of becoming a lightning victim: get to a safe shelter sooner and stay there longer

Maine traditionally has had few drought concerns as we are a water rich state. Regional water shortages, or a water shortage that affects a home or neighborhood, are not uncommon.

Droughts occur about every 20 years with severe 3–5 year droughts occurring about every 40 years. A serious drought affected Maine in 2001 through 2003.

A little over half of Maine people are served by a water district. The rest have private wells. Wells that are dug are especially vulnerable to water shortages. Drilled wells are less vulnerable because they reach down into the bedrock where water levels do not change quickly. However, a severe drought over a long period of time can affect the water available in drilled wells.

In a local water shortage or long drought, take steps to conserve water in your home, make sure your water is safe, and protect your water system:

Stay tuned to news, and any special information put out by your water utility, or by the town or state about water supply, and drinking water safety

If you get your water from a water utility:

  • If your water utility asks you to save water, always do so.
  • Conserve water in your daily routine. This does not include cutting back on drinking water. Drinking sufficient water is important for your health.
  • Check your home for leaks (your utility can help you with this)

Remember, you can save money and help the environment by sensible water use at any time. See our Sensible Water Use Tips for more information.

If you have a private well:

  • Make sure you have a safe source of sufficient drinking water for your family
  • Protect your well and pump: If your water level is low, you don’t want to damage your system by running the well dry. Spread out your water usage by timing showers, laundry, and other usages of large amounts of water. Conserve water in your daily routine. See our Sensible Water Use Tips for details.
  • DO NOT have water dumped in your well. This is a serious health risk, and a waste of money, as most of it will drain away.

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If your water comes from a public water supply, the advice that comes from your water utility should always be your first guide to home water use.

If you have a private well, often you are as much concerned with avoiding a temporary over-withdrawal from your well, which can damage your pump and necessitate expensive repairs.


  • Make sure your home is leak-free.
    • If you are on public water: When you are certain that no water is being used in your home, take a reading of the water meter. Wait 30 minutes and then take a second reading. If the meter reading changes, you have a leak!
    • If you have a well at home: Check your pump periodically. If the pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak.
  • Repair dripping faucets. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year!
  • Don't pour water down the drain: Use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
  • Even out your use of water. If you have adequate water but not much more, this can help prevent a temporary shortage, and damage to your pump. Space out the family showers, or do laundry late at night (see additional laundry tips below).


  • Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If you have a leak, the color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. (Flush immediately to avoid stains.)
  • If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
  • Leaky toilets usually can be fixed inexpensively by replacing the flapper.
  • Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. (A brick should not be used because loose pieces can cause damage to the internal parts. Instead, place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow or purchase a device available at most hardware and home centers designed for this purpose.) Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version.
  • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants.
  • In the shower, turn the water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn the water back on to rinse. Repeat when washing your hair.
  • Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving.
  • Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet to avoid flushing unnecessarily.


  • Operate automatic dishwasher only when it is fully loaded. Use the "light wash" feature if available to use less water.
  • When hand washing dishes, save water by filling two containers, one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
  • Most dishwashers can clean soiled dishes very well, so dishes do not have to be rinsed before washing. Just remove large particles of food, and put the soiled dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
  • Defrost meat or other frozen foods overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave, rather than by using running water.
  • Heat water on the stove or in the microwave. If you have to run it to get hot, capture it for other uses such as plant watering.
  • Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap. Re-use the water that vegetables are washed in for cleaning or watering plants.
  • Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste, or simply dispose of food in the garbage.


  • Operate automatic clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of your load.

Long-Term Water Conservation

  • Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
  • Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models.
  • Consider installing an instant hot water heater on your sink
  • Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking if you have a sudden and unexpected spell of freezing weather.
  • Install a water-softening systems only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation.
  • When purchasing a new appliance, choose one that is energy and water efficient.

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Maine is no stranger to catastrophic fires. In fact, every year Maine’s Fire Departments and the Maine Forest Service respond to grass and woodland fires in every part of the State.

Within the last 100 years we have experienced many episodes of grass and forest fires that have ravaged 100’s of acres. This can occur any time of the year. However, Maine is most vulnerable in the Spring and Fall when vegetation is not as “green” as during the dry months of summer.

Safety Precautions

Many grass and woodland fires start due to a “human element” such as carelessness with smoking materials, unsafe campfires and arson. Even permitted fires can get out of control in a very short period of time. By following simple fire prevention rules, we can all do our part to keep from starting these dangerous fires.

  • When burning with a permit, keep careful watch on the weather, wind and other factors that may change after you start to burn.
  • Dispose of smoking materials properly.
  • Make sure your campfire is completely out, remembering that ashes can stay hot for many hours.
  • Keep your property free from large amounts of debris as this becomes fuel.
  • Know evacuation routes in case a local fire gets out of control.
  • Teach your children about Fire Safety.
  • Be aware of the Maine Forest Service Fire Danger Level, which is updated daily.
REMEMBER- You need a PERMIT for open burning in Maine AND you can be held financially and criminally liable for fires that get out of your control!

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According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal two large causes of home fires in Maine are heating sources and cooking.

A few other documented causes are open flame (candle), ember or a torch and a number of fires because of an unknown or suspicious source.

Tips for a Safer Home

Here are some easy ways to help make your home safer:

  • Properly install and regularly check smoke alarms on every floor and near every sleeping area
  • Establish a fire escape plan and practice it routinely
  • Don't store highly-flammable materials (gasoline, solvents, oil-based paint, etc) in the house
  • Don't overload electric outlets or extension cores-- never use cords that are frayed or damaged
  • Dispose of oily rags properly (place them in a container of water and cover with a lid)
  • Keep at least one fire extinguisher (ABC type) in an accessible location in your home, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use it; consider keeping several extinguishers in strategic places including the kitchen, the garage, the basement, and the second floor
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, and all heating appliances checked and cleaned by a professional before each heating season
  • Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children; teach children to never play with fire
  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Never leave the kitchen when the stove is on
  • Keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from all heat sources (furnaces, stoves, cooking ranges, space heaters, fireplaces, etc.)
  • Makes sure everyone in your house knows how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near your telephone
  • Teach children how and when to dial 911
  • Designate 2 places to meet:
    1. Right outside the house in a sudden emergency like a fire
    2. Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return (everyone must know address and phone number)
  • Practice and maintain your plan and question your kids every six months so they remember what to do

What to do in a Fire Emergency

Should you find yourself and your home confronted with a fire, there are certain steps that should be taken to insure safety. These tactics vary according to the size and type of the fire. Knowing what to do during a fire can eliminate the panic and save your life.

  • If the fire is small and you have a fire extinguisher nearby, you may choose to attempt to put the fire out yourself. If the fire is not electircal or chemical in nature, water can also be used to extinguish it. Do not try to put out a fire that is getting out of control. If you're not sure you can control it, get everyone out of the house and call 911 from a neighbor's house.
  • Smother oil and grease fires in the kitchen with baking soda or salt, or put a lid over the flame if it is burning in a pan
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster
  • Sleep with your door closed. If you wake up to the sound of a smoke detector, feel the door knob with the back of your hand before you open it If the door knob is cool, leave immediately. Be prepared to crawl - smoke and heat rise, so the air is clearer and cooler near the floor. If the door knob is hot, escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light colored sheet outside the window, alerting firefighters to your presence.
  • Have your family meet at predesignated area outside the house. That way, if any members of the family are missing, firefighters can be notified.
  • If you don't have a set plan for exiting your home in an emergency, CREATE ONE - PRACTICE IT- KNOW IT- in case you have to USE IT!
  • Plan how to take care of your pets; they are often not allowed in emergency shelters due to health regulations
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit
  • Learn about your community's warning signals; what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them

For More Information

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When Maine's large rivers flood, we usually have some advance notice, and The National Weather Service issues flood watches and warnings.

Flash floods can happen whenever we get too much rain in too short a time, at any time of year. Warnings are issued, but may be only shortly in advance of the flooding, or flooding may already be occurring.

Here are some facts you may not know:

  • As little as two feet of water will float most cars and small trucks. If your vehicle begins to float, you lose complete control over the vehicle. If your vehicle stalls in a flooded roadway, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. The water may sweep the vehicle and its occupants away.
  • Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related.
  • On October 21, 1996, 4 to 19 inches of rain caused very serious flooding in New Hampshire and western Maine. In Scarborough, Maine, one man drowned when he drove his car into a flooded roadway. Unknown to the man, the road had already been washed away.
  • In 2004, in Gardiner, a man died when attempting to kayak in a swollen stream. Rushing flood water may look exciting to the amateur canoeist or boater, but it has incredible power and may be carrying hidden debris.
  • In 2007, in Limerick, Maine, a woman and her little granddaughter were swept away when they tried to walk through flood water.
  • In 2012, a Milo man was killed when he drove into a washed-out section of road.

Here are some flood/flash flood safety tips:

  • Never drive a car into a flooded roadway. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related.
  • Keep away from streams during heavy rainfall events. Swiftly moving water is extremely powerful and can easily overpower a person.
  • Do not attempt recreational boating in flood water. The power of the water, and the chance of heavy debris being swept along, make this extremely dangerous.
  • Keep children and pets inside and away from flooded streets, culverts, and streams.
  • Report any flooding to the appropriate authorities.
  • Obey all road blocks and barriers, even if the flooding has receded. Flood waters may have undercut the road surface or left dangerous debris in the roadway.
  • If you live in a flood prone area, have a plan in case the water starts rising quickly.
  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

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Maine’s primary natural hazard is flooding. Our most flood prone months are April, January and March. These are the months when snow pack is most subject to natural variables such as the “January Thaw” and seasonal rain falls that cause rapid snow melt and run off.

Winter and spring flooding can be further impacted by ice jams. The sudden release of an ice jam can have the same affect as a dam breach.

However, floods can happen at any time, in almost any location from too much rain in too short a time. In October of 1996, catastrophic flooding occurred in York and Cumberland Counties; over a foot of rain in a day was recorded in some locations.

Remember: "The three primary causes of flooding in Maine are rain, rain and more rain".

Safety Precautions:

To protect your home or business from flood damage and loss:

  • Be aware of hazards that can increase the potential for flooding – including flash flooding (heavy rain events, spring run off, ice jams, hurricanes, earthquakes, dam failure)
  • Know the flood prone areas in your community (including dam locations)
  • Have a personal evacuation/communications plan
  • Know where and how to seek sheltering in the event of evacuation
  • Check with your insurance agent about flood insurance coverage; most homeowners insurance does not cover floods. Your agent should be able to help you secure insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Learn how to “flood proof” your home.
  • During the flood stay tuned to radio or TV to get the latest information.
  • Pay attention to evacuation orders.

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Most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice from the National Weather Service: Turn Around Don't Drown™.

The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.

If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is more limited.

Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN!

Follow these safety rules:

  • Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don't Drown™
  • Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don't Drown™
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

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It is best to get professional cleaners to work on carpets and floors, but this may not be possible. Here are some steps you can take immediately to clean up:

  • Take a picture of the damage (always do this after any damage to your home, furnishings or car)
  • Hose down the flooded area to get excess mud and debris off as soon as possible.
  • Wear rubber gloves while cleaning. Wash any exposed skin frequently in clean water.

Carpets and Rugs

  1. Pull up carpets and rugs to prevent further damage to the floor.
    • Waffle-weave and foam or rubber-type pads may be reused.
  2. Dry small rugs outside in sunlight if possible. Blot up excess moisture with dry blankets or towels. Lay towels on the wet floor and walk on them to absorb moisture.
  3. Open windows if weather permits or use electric fans or lights to get air and heat to carpets.
  4. When rug is dry, thoroughly vacuum or sweep . Move the vacuum cleaner slowly to pick up more dirt. Clean off as much crusted dirt and sediment as possible before shampooing.
    • Some rugs may shrink when shampooed.
  5. Apply a commercial rug shampoo with an electrical rug shampooer, a manual applicator, a sponge mop or a hand brush.
    • Don't use an electrical shampooer on shag carpeting. The long pile may become tangled in the brushes.
  6. After cleaning each section, brush the wet pile in one direction with the applicator.
  7. When the foam is completely dry, vacuum to remove shampoo and loose dirt.
  8. To disinfect, dip sponge in a weak chlorine solution (2 tablespoons bleach to one gallon of water). Wring out sponge and wipe carpet using as little water as possible. Don't use on wool carpets. Check to see if it discolors your carpet.
  9. Rinse several time with clear water, wringing most of water from sponge each time. Change water when it becomes dirty.
  10. Blot up remaining moisture with towels.
  11. Dry rugs thoroughly as quickly as possible. An electric fan will speed up drying. Any moisture left at the base of fibers will cause mildew or rot.
  12. Cover areas you must walk on with brown paper until thoroughly dry.
  13. Vacuum when dry and brush nap in one direction.


Sections of subfloors that separate must be replaced to avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed, allow subfloors to dry thoroughly.

Vinyl floors

  • With wood subflooring: Remove floor covering to replace subflooring.
  • With concrete floors: Removal isn't necessary except to hasten drying of the slab.


  • If the floor wasn't soaked, loose tiles can be replaced individually.

Sheet flooring

  • If water has seeped under it, remove the entire sheet.

Wood floors

  • Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling.
  • Clean and dry floor thoroughly before attempting repairs.

You may also call the Cooperative Extension Service for advice. Check your telephone directory for their 800 number.

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Often, flood-damaged sheets, blankets, quilts, etc. can be cleaned. However, anything that can't be cleaned should be discarded, as flood water is usually contaminated water. Here are some tips:

  1. Brush off loose dirt.
  2. Rinse mud stained items in cold water.
  3. Wash in warm suds and disinfectant several times. Do not use hot water. Rinse well.
  4. If stains remain, try bleaching white cottons and linens. Check bleach package for instructions and for possible use with colored fabrics.

Blankets and Comforters

  1. Wash only one at a time.
  2. Shake and brush to remove surface dirt. Follow manufacturer's instructions if available.
  3. If no instructions are available, soak at least 15 minutes in lukewarm water, turning 2 or 3 times during soak period. Repeat several times using clean water each time.
  4. Wash with mild detergent, disinfectant, and lukewarm water. Use as little agitation as possible.
  5. Rinse in several changes of lukewarm water, soaking each time for five minutes and turning over once or twice by hand. Extract as much water as possible.
  6. Hang blanket over two lines to dry or dry in a preheated dryer with several large, dry bath towels. Remove from dryer while still damp and hang over two lines to finish drying. Gently stretch into shape.
  7. Brush on both sides to raise nap.

You may need to take thick comforters apart , then wash cover and filling separately.

Woolen Bedding and Lightweight Quilts

  1. Shake and brush well to remove loose dirt.
  2. Wash in barely warm water with mild soap and detergent.
  3. Add a disinfectant.
  4. Dry outdoors in sunlight if possible. Otherwise, dry in a warm place.

Electric Blankets

  1. Follow manufacturer's directions, if available. Most manufacturers recommend washing, not dry cleaning.
  2. If directions are not available, cover plug with heavy cloth and follow instructions above.
  3. Avoid bending wiring. Do not put through a wringer or dry in a dryer unless the manufacturer recommends.
  4. Squeeze blanket lengthwise and hang over two lines.

Foam Rubber or Urethane Pillows

  1. Remove cover and brush off surface dirt.
  2. Follow manufacturers directions if available.
  3. If not available, use a bathtub or large sink.
  4. Soak in cool water; then wash in warm suds by hand. Compress the pillow and release. Do not twist or wring.
  5. Rinse the same way in lukewarm water.
  6. Gently squeeze or spin out excess water. Blot with towels.
  7. Dry away from heat or sunlight. Do not use dryer unless on an "air only" setting. Pillows may dry very slowly. If they are old, they may crumble.

Polyester Fiberfill Pillows

  1. Brush off surface dirt.
  2. Wash by hand or in washing machine in warm water and low-sudsing detergent. Add a disinfectant to the wash water. Do not twist or wring. Change water and repeat.
  3. Rinse 3 times in clear, warm water.
  4. Spin off water in automatic machine.
  5. Tumble dry in dryer at moderate setting with several bath towels OR press out as much as possible by hand and hang on line outdoors to dry.

Feather Pillows

  1. Wash feathers and ticking together if ticking is in good condition. If not, or if badly soiled, wash separately (see following instructions for separating).
  2. Brush off surface dirt.
  3. Open a few inches of the seam at opposite corners of the pillow, turn edges and sew loosely with strong thread.
  4. Wash in machine or by hand. Use warm suds and disinfectant. Wash for for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not wash more than two pillows at a time in an automatic washer.
  5. Rinse at least 3 times in clear warm water.
  6. Spin off water or gently squeeze out. Do not use wringer.
  7. Dry in dryer at moderate heat setting or in a warm room with a fan, or across two or three clotheslines. In an automatic dryer, put several bath towels or a clean tennis shoe in the dryer to speed up drying. Allow at least 2 hours. Shake up feathers occasionally to hasten drying.

    To separate ticking and feathers.

    1. Use a large pillow case or muslin bag 2-3 times larger than the ticking.
    2. Open one edge of ticking and sew open edges of ticking and bag together.
    3. Shake feathers from ticking to bag/pillowcase and close seam.
    4. Wash the bag of feathers and the ticking as you would pillow (see above).
    5. Air dry , hanging on line by 2 corners. Change position and shake feathers occasionally to speed drying.
    6. Spray starch the inside of the ticking.
    7. Transfer clean feathers to clean ticking the same way you emptied the pillow.
    8. Sew seam of ticking closed.



Renovation is not usually possible. It is best to buy a replacement mattress. However, if a mattress must be used temporarily:

  1. Scrape off surface dirt. Wear gloves and wash with a bleach solution (3/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water).
  2. Put the mattress in the sun. Turn occasionally to dry. Fans may speed up the process.
  3. Cover mattress with plastic or a rubber sheet before using it.

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When the water recedes, a layer of mud is left. Shovel or scrape it off. Hose down the walls and floors to remove the remaining mud. Do not allow mud to dry -- wash it off while it is still wet. To control odors and effectively clean flooded surfaces such as walls, baseboards, floors, etc., wash them with commercial laundry bleach solution (two ounces to two gallons of water).

Document the damage before cleaning up. Take pictures if possible. If you have insurance, contact your agent.

The following information is the best we have available, but there is no guarantee it is correct for your situation. Use your best judgment. Consult experts whenever possible. Professional restoration, cleaning or salvage companies may offer free advice to affected homeowners. Your Cooperative Extension Service has an 800 telephone number.

Appliances: Wash refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, air conditioners and ranges. Dry completely. If possible, have them checked by a serviceman before using.

Bedding and Linens: See special information sheet.

Books and Papers: See special information sheet.

Clothing: Put clothes that were covered with water on a line and hose them down. When mud is removed, launder and/or dry clean. See special information sheet.

Concrete: Wash off and give a bleach bath.

Dishes and Cooking Utensils: See special information sheet.

Draperies: If they are soaked, hose them down immediately. Take to professional cleaners.

Electric Motors: Motors in appliances should be thoroughly cleaned and reconditioned before being used. If possible, have it done by a repairman. Clean, dry and oil at lubrication points of sealed motor units as soon as possible. Rinse unsealed motors with clean water under low pressure, while turning the motor over slowly by hand. Use a hair dryer to dry electric outlets and other electrical devices.

Fixtures: Inspect and empty water. Allow to dry thoroughly before using.

Floors, Rugs and Carpets: It is best to get professional cleaners to work on carpets and floors, but this may not be possible. Hose down to get excess mud and debris off. Then dry. Begin cleanup as soon as possible. While cleaning, wash exposed skin frequently in purified water. Wear rubber gloves for extra protection. See special information sheet.

Food: See special information sheet.

Furniture: Wash upholstered furniture, automobile upholstery and other household articles with soap and water. Expose to sun and air until thoroughly dry. Solid wood furniture usually can be restored.

Grass, Trees, Shrubbery: They often return to normal after submersion for several days. If trees and shrubs are damaged, they should be supported by wood stakes, etc.

Paintings: If painting is particularly valuable, take it to a professional restorer. Wipe other paintings with a mild soap solution and soft cloth.

Plaster Walls and Ceilings: Hose down if covered with a heavy mud residue. Allow to dry. Wash down with 2 tablespoons sodium hypochlorite laundry bleach (such as Purex or Clorox) to a gallon of water or use a household detergent, following the directions on the container. For deposits of water in the ceiling, remove the light fixtures, and drain the water out through the hole.

Refuse: Cover all flood deposited refuse with at least two feet of earth.

Electronic Equipment: If the unit was completely covered by water, hose down to clean and thoroughly wipe off electrical connections that are easily accessible, being careful not to cause breakage. Dry as quickly as possible. Do not attempt to operate the unit until it is completely dry. If it still does not work, consult a repair person.

Tiles: If tiles are waterproof and have been laid with waterproof glue, they should not be injured by submersion. Tiles laid with water-soluble glue will come up soon after the flood waters subside. If laid on masonite or wood floors, the floor under the tiles may buckle, causing the tiles to loosen. Ceramic tiles should be unaffected, but the wall behind the tiles may buckle or warp, causing tiles to come loose.

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Flood waters may carry silt, raw sewage, oil or chemical waste. Before using any dishes, pots, pans or cooking utensils that were in contact with flood water, wash and sterilize them. If in doubt, contact your local University of Maine Cooperative Extension office or the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-800-535-4555.

Discard Immediately:

  • Plastic utensils
  • Wooden spoons
  • Baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers.

General Instructions:

  • Remove plastic and wooden handles from frying pans and saucepans. Clean parts separately.
  • Wash dishes, pots, pans and utensils in hot, sudsy water.
  • Rinse in clear water.
  • Place in wire basket or other container and dip in sanitizing solution . Use a solution recommended by local health authorities or 1 1/2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water.
  • Air-dry dishes.
  • If cupboards and food preparation surfaces were in contact with flood water, clean and rinse them with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes and utensils.

To Control Rusting:

Iron :

  • Wash using a stiff brush and scouring powder.
  • If rust remains, wipe with an oil-saturated cloth or use a commercial rust remover.
  • Scour kitchen utensils with steel wool.
  • Season iron pans and utensils with a generous amount of unsalted cooking oil. Heat in an oven set at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours. Apply more oil as needed during the heating process. When completed, wipe off excess oil.

Locks and Hinges

  • If possible, take apart, wipe with kerosene and oil.
  • If you can't take apart, squirt a little machine oil into the bolt opening or keyhole. Work the knobs to distribute it. (Don't use too much oil. If it drips on woodwork, painting may be difficult.)

Stainless Steel, Nickel-Copper Alloy, Nickel or Chrome-Plated Metals

  • Wash thoroughly and polish with a fine-powdered cleanser.
  • If plating or hardware is broken so that metal is exposed and rusted, wipe with kerosene, then wash and dry. Wax to prevent further rusting.

Aluminum Pans and Utensils

  • Wash thoroughly with hot sudsy water.
  • Scour any unpolished surfaces (insides of pans) with steel wool pads containing soap, rubbing in one direction only.
  • Polish plated aluminum surfaces with a fine cleansing powder or silver polish. Do not scour.
  • Sterilize in a chlorine solution.

Copper and Brass

  • Polish with special polish or rub with cloth saturated with vinegar or a piece of salted lemon.
  • Always wash thoroughly after using acids or polish, or surfaces will retarnish rapidly.
  • Wash lacquered ornamental copper in warm sudsy water. Rinse with warm water and wipe dry. Do not polish or soak.


  • Wash with hot sudsy water, using a toothbrush for crevices; rinse and dry.
  • Rub on silver polish (paste or liquid) with a soft cloth, using soft toothbrush for crevices.
  • Rinse in hot soap suds and dry.
  • Check for small holes, cracked joints, and dents. If it is a prized piece, let a professional fix it.
  • Small holes can be mended by cleaning the metal inside with steel wool, then filling with pewter epoxy mender. Follow instructions on label carefully.
  • Felt or other protection materials that have separated from the piece should be replaced. Purchase material from fabric store, cut to match the damaged piece, and glue with rubber cement.

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If you can't work with your books immediately, freeze them to control mold growth.

Dry books and papers slowly.

  1. If paper is damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder between the pages, to absorb moisture. Leave powder for several hours, then brush off.
  2. Place books on end with pages separated.
  3. When books are partially dry, pile and press them to keep pages from crumpling.
  4. Alternate drying and pressing until thoroughly dry. Use a fan to hasten drying.
  5. When books are nearly dry, apply low heat with an electric iron. Separate the pages to prevent musty odors.
  6. Place books in closed containers with moth crystals to help stop mold growth.

Photocopy important documents and papers. Even if they seem to have dried successfully, they may later disintegrate because of materials in the flood water.

For more information, read "Procedures for Salvage of Water-Damaged Library Materials" by the Library of Congress. Check with your local library for a copy.

Or call your County Extension Service for further recommendations. You'll find their 800 number in the telephone book under University of Maine Extension Service.

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Keep complete records of losses and flood-related expenses even if you don't have insurance coverage. These are helpful in applying for State or federal aid that may become available and for allowable income tax deductions. Most flood losses are deductible for income tax purposes.

Include records on the following:

  1. All actual losses, including furniture, clothes, paintings, artifacts, food, and equipment, even if you don't intend to replace them.
  2. All flood-related expenses. This includes the additional cost of living, if any, for your family and you, such as motel and restaurant bills, temporary rental of cars or home rental.
  3. Clean-up expenses, rented equipment, and depreciation of equipment purchases.
  4. Restoration expenses, including all labor and material purchased and other costs to return your home to its prior condition.

Photographs of ruined homes or objects are excellent evidence for later documentation. After completing your list of losses, have two or three of your neighbors sign the list as witnesses. Make sure they inspect all damaged material, so that they can vouch for the list's accuracy.

Try to document the value of each object lost. Include bills of sale, cancelled checks, charge account records or prior insurance evaluations. If you don't have these, estimate the value, purchase place, and date of purchase. Include this information with your list.

After the clean up, make an inventory of your household and document it with pictures or receipts. Keep it in a safe deposit box or in another safe place away from the area.

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There are potential hazards that need to be considered when entering your home: gas leaks, electrical hazards, structural damage, and unsafe drinking water.

First, open windows and doors to allow foul odors and leaking gas to escape. Then inspect your home.

Gas Leaks:

Use your sense of smell. Do not turn on any light switches; instead, use a flashlight to check damages. Lanterns, torches, electrical sparks, and cigarettes could cause an explosive fire if there is a gas leak. If you find a leak, call the gas company for help.

Electrical Hazards:

Wear rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes to avoid electrocution. If the house has been flooded, do not turn on any lights or appliances. Do not operate flooded electrical appliances until they have been reconditioned. Call an electrical contractor or repair shop for further information. Turn off the electricity when checking electrical circuits and equipment or when checking a flooded basement. If the circuit breaker is in a flooded basement, the power company will need to turn off the electricity from outside the house. Make sure the circuits are dry before turning on the power.

Structural Damage:

Watch for falling debris and check for possible damage to floors and walls. Knock down any hanging plaster. If you are not sure of the dangers the structural damage presents, call the city building inspector or engineer.

There is a danger of foundation walls collapsing, especially if the basement is flooded. Keep an eye on the foundation walls as the water is removed. This causes a change in pressure and could cause the walls to cave in. To prevent radical changes in pressure, pump about a third of the water out each day. The water pressure needs a chance to equalize. Use a gas sump pump if the electricity has to remain off.

Report broken utility lines to the authorities.

Drinking Water:

Supplies from any source suspected of being affected by flood conditions may be treated by one of the following methods:

  • Mix teaspoonful of commercial laundry bleach with 2 gallons of water. Let stand five minutes before drinking.
  • Bring water to a boil for ten minutes in a clean container. Eliminate the flat taste by shaking the water in a bottle, by pouring from one container to another, or by adding a pinch of salt. If the water is from a public supply, local authorities will tell you if boiling is necessary.
  • Add five drops of tincture of iodine solution to one quart of water. Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for 30 minutes before drinking.
  • Use water purifying tablets, available in drug stores or camping equipment outlets.

Food Safety:

Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters.

Record Keeping

Keep records of all flood-related expenses. See sheet on After the Flood: Record Keeping for details.

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In Maine, flooding can occur at any time of the year. However, typically, the greatest threat of flooding occurs in the spring when heavy rains and snowmelt can combine to produce excessive runoff. Ice jams can also produce flooding during the late winter and early spring.

To alert the public of these potentially threatening conditions, the National Weather Service issues flood WATCHES and WARNINGS.

  • FLOOD WATCH is issued when flooding is possible within the next 36 hours.
  • FLOOD WARNING indicates that flooding is imminent or is currently occurring.

The following are different types of Flood Warnings:

River Flood Warning

Issued specifically for major rivers, these warnings include forecasts of water levels and/or flows at certain points along the river. Widespread heavy rain, possibly coupled with snowmelt, is often responsible for this flooding.

Small River and Stream Flood Warnings

These warnings are issued by county for the smaller rivers and streams. Heavy rainfall, possibly combined with snowmelt, is often responsible for this type of flooding.

Flash Flood Warnings

These warnings are issued by county for rivers and streams when rapid rises in river and stream levels are expected during a short period of time. Heavy, slow moving thunderstorms and dam breaks are often the cause of this type of flooding.

Urban Flood Warnings

Issued for urban areas when local drainage systems are not able to handle the volume of runoff from heavy rain, and possibly snowmelt. In the fall, winter, and spring, leaves or snow may contribute to the flooding by blocking drainage systems.

Coastal Flood Warnings

Issued when the combination of the astronomical tide and the storm surge will result in flooding of coastal areas. Onshore winds associated with large storms contribute to this type of flooding.

Keep appraised of current weather conditions including latest FORECAST and any FLOOD STATEMENTS, WATCHES or WARNINGS for your area.

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Athletes are at great risk for heat related illnesses.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) offers these tips for coaches and athletes.

Coaches should monitor the heat index and take proper precautions to protect their players. Below are sample guidelines for athletic programs.

Refer to the National Weather Service Heat Index for guidance.

  1. If the heat index is 80-89: Athletes should be watched closely for any heat distress, and frequent water breaks should be taken.

  2. If the heat index is 90- 94: Optional water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration. Ice down towels for cooling. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for any heat distress.

  3. If the heat index is 95-99: Re-check temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for increased Heat Index. Mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration. Along with iced down towels, other means for cooling athletes should be available: water sprinklers, fans, shade etc. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action. Contact sports and activities with helmets and other possible equipment should be removed while not involved in contact. Athletic practices should be modified such that football players should practice in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets only.

  4. If the heat index is 100-104: Re-check temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for increased Heat Index. Mandatory water breaks every 20 minutes for 10 minutes in duration. Along with ice down towels, other means for cooling athletes should be available: water sprinklers, fans, shade etc. Alter uniform by removing items if possible or other modifications should be made, such as football practice in shorts, t-shirts and helmets only. Helmets and other possible equipment removed if not involved in contact or necessary for safety. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action. Reduce time of outside activity as well as indoor activity if air conditioning is unavailable. If necessary for safety, suspend activity.

  5. If the heat index is 105 or greater: Practice will be suspended, postponed until later in the evening, or held indoors at the coach’s discretion. Stop all indoor activity unless air conditioning is available. Practice could also be rescheduled or postponed, when the heat index has reached an acceptable level. When a practice or event has been “FLAGGED” no outdoor practice may begin until the Director of Athletics and/or Head Athletic Trainer communicates to the school that the conditions are acceptable, meaning the heat index is below 105. Practice may be postponed to a later time the same day if the heat index lowers. All appropriate guidelines should be followed based on the reading at the time.

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People with mental illness are at high risk for heat-related illness. The Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) explains why, and offers ways we can help.

  • Some medications used to treat mental illness such as anti-psychotics inhibit the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, leaving it more susceptible to heat stroke.

  • People with mental illnesses who live in housing without air conditioning further increase their risk.

What We Can Do:

  • Stay in close contact (at least twice daily) with people with mental illness, and especially those taking anti-psychotic medications.

  • Provide access to an air conditioner.

Help our friends remember (and remember ourselves):

  • Drink adequate fluids, and avoid those that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar – these can cause more loss of body fluid.

  • Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing

  • A fan can be beneficial but not reliable to cool one off once the temperatures hit the high 90s.

  • Take a cool shower or bath.

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It is important for us to recognize the early signs of heat-related illnesses and what to do about them.

A Message from the Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)

During normal weather, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, during periods of extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Serious heat-related illnesses include:

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Body temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Warning signs include hot, dry, red skin (no sweating), rapid pulse, high body temperature, headache, loss of alertness, confusion, rapid and shallow breathing, and unconsciousness or coma. Emergency 911 should be called immediately. While waiting for assistance, cool the person rapidly with such methods as moving them to a shady or cooler area, using cool water, ice, fans, and loosening their clothing.

Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people over-exert themselves in high heat and humidity. Symptoms include heavy sweating, fainting, vomiting, cold, pale, and clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea and weakness. Move the person to a cool place, have them drink fluids and rest, loosen their clothes, and cool them off with water or wet cloths. Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke. So, if symptoms worsen or do not improve, get medical help.

Heat cramps are muscle cramps in the abdominal area or extremities (e.g. arms and legs) that often occur in people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity and as a result their muscles lose salt and moisture. The cramps are often accompanied by heavy sweating and mild nausea. Move the person to a cool place to rest, and apply firm pressure to the cramping muscle. The person can also gently stretch the cramped muscle and hold it for 20 seconds, and then gently massage it. Have the person drink some cool beverages such as water or a sports drink. The person should seek medical attention if there is no improvement or if the person has underlying medical problems.

Sunburn damages the skin and causes the skin to become red, painful, and warm after sun exposure. Medical attention should be sought if the sunburn affects an infant or if there is fever, fluid-filled blisters, or severe pain. Otherwise, the person should avoid sun exposure, apply cold compresses or immerse the burned skin in cool water, apply moisturizing lotion to the burn.

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot humid weather and is most common in young children. The rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters and is most common in the neck and upper chest and in creases such as in the elbow and groin. Move the person to a cooler place and keep the affected area dry. The person can also use talcum powder to increase comfort.

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People over 65 years of age can be at high risk for heat-related illness. How can you help?

A Message from the Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)

  • Elderly people’s physiology does not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature. They tend to have a decreased thirst sensation and do not feel the urge to drink as often as younger people. They may have physical conditions that make it difficult to drink.

  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that upsets normal body responses to heat.

  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines (such as diuretics and anti-cholinergic medications) that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

What We Can Do:

  • Visit or have contact with older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  • Provide access to an air conditioner, and if none is in the residence, transport the person to a store, public library, restaurant, senior center, or cooling center.

  • Make sure older adults have access to an electric fan, though this is not reliable once the temperatures are above the mid-90s.

  • Assure adequate fluid intake, avoiding those that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar – these can cause more loss of body fluid.

  • Make sure clothing is loose and lightweight.

  • Assure access to cooling water – a bath, shower, wet towels.

Studies from heat waves show the highest risk factors for death and hospitalization are older age, living alone, lack of access to an air conditioner, and underlying medical conditions.

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What is the risk to children of heat-related illness? What can parents and caregivers do?

A Message from the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)

Children can be at high risk from heat because:

  • Children produce more heat (because of a greater surface area-to-body mass ratio) than adults.

  • Children sweat less than adults.

  • Children are less likely to drink adequate fluids during exercise and heat.

  • Infants, and especially newborns, are at higher risk.

  • Children who rarely exercise, are overweight or obese, have had a previous heat-related illness, drink caffeinated beverages, are developmentally delayed or have cognitive disabilities, have underlying medical conditions (diabetes), are at higher risk.

What Parents of Infants and Young Children Can Do:

  • Make sure infants and young children have access to air conditioning, lightweight clothing, adequate fluids, and cooling water. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are especially sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.

  • Monitor for and recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and dehydration in children. Dehydration in young children early on can present as: decreased urine output, dry or sticky mouth, irritability, and fatigue.

What Coaches/Parents/Teachers Can Do:

  • Reduce the intensity of physical activity lasting more than 15 minutes, especially if heat and humidity are both high.

  • Realize that conditioned athletes may be more susceptible to heat stroke because they have a larger body mass.

  • Require young athletes to take fluid breaks before practice and every 15 – 60 minutes during practice – even if they are not thirsty.

  • Require all athletes to take regular shade and rest breaks.

  • Recognize signs of heat illness and dehydration in children. Dehydration early on can present as: dry or sticky mouth, thirst, headache, dizziness, cramps, excessive fatigue.

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Even though we do not get many days of extreme heat in Maine, we do get some. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable, yet over the past 30 years more people have died in this country from heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.

It is important to pay attention to weather predictions that call for extended days of high heat and humidity.

Take Protective Measures Before Extreme Heat

To prepare for extreme heat, you should:

  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Keep storm windows up all year.

During a Heat Emergency

The following are guidelines for what you should do if the weather is extremely hot:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. If you must go outside, protect yourself by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic, caffeinated and sugary beverages, since these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
  • Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

This fact sheet developed in cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)

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Nearly every household product contains hazardous materials or chemicals. Review these safety tips, and then visit our Examples of Household Chemicals. You may be surprised at what you have in your home that needs safe handling.

Protective measures for buying and storing household products safely:

  • Buy only as much of a chemical as you think you will use.
  • Keep product in their original containers and never remove products from their original container unless the container is corroding. If the container is corroding, repackage the product and clearly label the container.
  • Never store hazardous products in food containers.
  • Never mix household hazardous materials or hazardous waste with other products. Incompatibles such as chlorine bleach and ammonia will react and could ignite or explode.
  • Never mix pool chemicals indoors

Take these precautions to prevent and respond to accidents:

  • Always follow the manufacture’s instructions for proper use of household chemicals.
  • Never smoke while using household chemicals.
  • Never use hairspray, cleaning solutions, paint products, or pesticides near an open flame (e.g., pilot light, lighted candle, fireplace, wood burning stove, etc.) Vapor particles in the air can catch fire and explode even if you cannot see or smell them.
  • If you have a chemical spill contact your local fire department or the Maine Department of Environmental protection (DEP) immediately. DEP spill number is 800-482-0777.
  • Dispose of hazardous materials correctly. Take household hazardous waste to a local collection program. Check with your county, state environmental, or solid waste agency to learn if there is a household hazardous waste collection program in your area.

Learn to recognize symptoms of toxic poisoning:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, or respiratory tract
  • Changes in skin color.
  • Dizziness
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Cramps or diarrhea

Be prepared to seek medical assistance:

  • If it is a life threatening situation call 911 immediately.
  • Post the number of emergency medical services and poison control center.
  • Maine Poison Control number is 800-222-1222.

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So, you think you don't have any dangerous chemicals in your home? Check this list below, and then visit our Household Chemical Emergency page for safety tips.

Important Phone Numbers:

  • To report a chemical spill: Your fire department or Maine DEP 800-482-0777
  • A life-threatening emergency: 911
  • Maine Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222

Cleaning Products Lawn & Garden Products
Oven cleaners Herbicides
Drain cleaners Insecticides
Wood & metal cleaners and polishers Fungicides/wood preservatives
Toilet cleaners Miscellaneous
Tub, tile, shower cleaners Batteries
Bleach Mercury thermostats or thermometers
Pool chemicals Florescent light bulbs
Workshop/Painting Supplies Driveway sealer
Adhesives & glues Automotive Products
Furniture strippers Motor oil
Oil or enamel based paint Fuel additives
Paint strippers, thinners, removers & turpentine Carburetor & fuel injection cleaners
Photographic chemicals Air conditioning refrigerants
Fixatives & other solvents Starter fluids
Indoor Pesticides Automotive batteries
Insect sprays and baits Transmission & brake fluids
Flea repellents & shampoo Antifreeze
Houseplant insecticides Other Flammable Products
Moth repellents Propane tanks & other compressed gas cylinders
Mouse & rat poisons & baits Kerosene
  Home heating oil

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A hurricane is a tropical cyclone in which winds reach sustained speeds of 74 miles per hour (category 1) or more and blow in a large spiral around a relatively calm center (the "eye"). Hurricanes produce damage and destruction from heavy rainfalls, winds, and flooding.

The three main conditions which favor tropical cyclone development are (1) warm ocean waters, (2) atmospheric moisture, and (3) relatively light winds aloft. While hurricane season lasts from June through November, the peak of the season is from Mid-August through October. Each year, an average of 10 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

In Maine, hurricanes don't happen often but they can be devastating when they do. Previous storms that had impact on Maine are: Carol and Edna in 1954, Donna in 1960, Gloria in 1985, and Bob in 1991.

One of the most common disaster preparation mistakes is that people do not prepare while the sun is shining. When disaster is approaching everyone is after the same resources and they quickly become scarce. Lines are long, traffic is bad, and tempers are short. Start now to put together your disaster supply kit. If you have children, involve them in the game of finding items on your list. Prepare now, it’ll take less time.

Some hurricane preparedness considerations:

  • Plan where you will go and how you will get there if you have to evacuate.
  • Have two evacuation routes not subject to flooding
  • Know whether you home could be subject to flooding. Contact your town or county emergency management agency if you’re not sure.
  • Purchase flood insurance if your home could possibly flood. Homeowner's insurance does not cover floods.
  • Plan for the safety of your pets. Most shelters do not accept pets.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Alert Radio
  • Talk with other family members about your plan especially if you have medical or functional needs or mobility limitations
  • If you own a boat, have a hurricane plan for it
  • Contact your local or county emergency management agency or American Red Cross chapter if you have questions

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Maine has thousands of recreational and working sea-going boats. Hurricanes and coastal storms have immense power, and as a boater you need to take them seriously. Here are some hurricane preparedness and safety tips from the US Coast Guard:

  • If you live or boat in an area prone to hurricanes or heavy weather, know your local and national weather sources and monitor them continuously. Get into the habit of reading weather signs and monitoring the weather.
  • Contact local marinas and ask for advice. You will find marina operators knowledgeable and helpful. They can advise you on the best methods for securing your boat.
  • Remove small boats from the water and move them to a secure location. Ensure the trailer and boat are secured above likely flood areas. Remove all loose items. Ensure the boat is tied securely to the trailer.
  • If your boat is too large to be removed from the water, move it to a safe haven well before the storm approaches. You should know where safe havens are in the area where you boat.

Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat to "ride out" a hurricane.

  • If you are unable to move your boat contact local marinas for advice.
  • Some steps that may be taken are:
    • Use extra fenders. Some people even lash used tires to boats to protect them.
    • Double up and secure mooring lines.
    • Secure all hatches and portals and cover windscreens.
    • Take down mast whenever possible.
    • Remove all loose items from decks and superstructure and from area around mooring. Leave nothing unsecured.

Never forget that storms move quickly and they are unpredictable. You can always replace a boat; you cannot replace a life.

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If forecasters are beginning to talk about a hurricane or tropical storm possibly affecting Maine, get prepared now. Even though we've given you some approximate times to do things, remember that when hurricanes approach New England, they often speed up rapidly. You don't have as much time as you think!

Three days before:

  • Check your disaster supply kit. If you remain in your home, do you have everything you need for at least three days, with no power? Go to the store now, and pick up the things you don't have. Beat the rush.
  • Do you have everything you need if you have to evacuate? Begin putting together a "go kit" now. Get your important family papers together. Consider where you would go. If you might have to go to a shelter, make sure you have the basic needs for your family in your Grab-N-Go kit.

Two days before:

  • Fill up your car with gasoline.
  • Visit your bank or the ATM and take out some extra cash. The amount can depend on your family size and needs. An extended power outage might make it hard to obtain cash, or for merchants to process credit cards.

One day before:

  • Evacuate if advised to do so. Don't wait. If you wait too long, and then need help, you will be putting responders at risk. Or they simply will not be able to reach you.
  • Secure all outside furniture or other objects that could be caught by the wind.
  • Board up exposed windows, or at tape them up to reduce the potential for shattering glass.
  • Surf will be high as the storm approaches. Stay away from the water. It is dangerous to go to the beach to see the waves! Rocks and shells carried by the wind can cause serious injury or death. You can lose your balance in the winds. The strong surf can sweep you, your child or your dog away in seconds.
  • If you have livestock, make sure they have a secure shelter. Move them into shelter before the storm becomes too strong.
  • If you are staying in your home, begin closely monitoring weather broadcasts. Get your portable radio tuned to a station that is carrying emergency information. Make sure your NOAA Weather Radio is operating properly.

During the Storm:

  • Bring all your pets inside, and stay in your home as the storm approaches. Stay away from large windows; go to the basement or an inside room if it appears your home is being damaged by the high wind.
  • Don't be fooled by a sudden calm. It may be the eye of the storm and last only 15 to 30 minutes. The storm then will resume with greater intensity and the wind will be from the opposite direction.
  • Do not go out until assured by official weather reports that the storm has passed.

Immediately after the storm:

  • Begin to assess the damage to your home.
  • If you can get out, stay away from flooded areas and downed power lines.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who might need extra help.

If the Power Goes Out:

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During hurricanes and tropical storms, the National Hurricane Center and local National Weather Service Offices across the country share in the responsibility for providing critical weather information to the public.

To do so, the Hurricane Center and local offices closely coordinate on the forecast, in order to provide consistent information to the public. Consequently, the normal zone forecasts may be delayed during these situations.

Like all weather-related threats, the National Weather Service relies on a WATCH and WARNING program to alert the public to the potential dangers from tropical storms and hurricanes.

  • TROPICAL STORM/HURRICANE WATCH is issued when tropical storm/hurricane force winds are possible along the coast within 36 hours. If you haven't done so prior to the issuance of the watch, it is a good time to begin preparations for the potential storm, especially for those actions that require extra time.
  • TROPICAL STORM/HURRICANE WARNING is issued when tropical storm/hurricane force winds are expected along the coast within 24 hours. Once the warning has been issued, you should complete any preparatory actions and get to a safe location.

Once the storm arrives, stay in the safe location until the storm has completely passed. Don't be fooled by the eye of the storm, which can mislead people into thinking that the storm is over. Winds and rain will increase rapidly immediately after the eye passes overhead. Tropical circulations, including hurricanes, are classified based on the following wind criteria:

  • TROPICAL DEPRESSION: Wind speeds less than 39 MPH

  • TROPICAL STORM: Wind speeds between 39 and 73 MPH

  • HURRICANE: Sustained Wind speeds of 74 MPH or more

While the National Hurricane Center issues HURRICANE and TROPICAL STORM WATCHES and WARNINGS for the coast, the local National Weather Service Office is responsible for issuing numerous watches, warnings, and advisories for local hazards associated with or preceeding the storm, both along the coast and inland.

Watches, Warnings and Advisories


While issued separately, these watches and warnings are generally summarized by each local National Weather Service Office in HURRICANE LOCAL STATEMENTs. In addition, the local office issues a variety of forecasts and information statements during hurricanes or tropical storms.

In addition to tropical storm/hurricane watches and warnings, the National Hurricane Center and Tropical Prediction Center issue numerous other products that can be very useful in tracking and assessing the potential hazards from tropical systems.

Tracking and Assessing

  • TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOKS - issued 4 times daily from June 1st to November 30th
  • PUBLIC ADVISORIES - Issued every 6 hours as needed
  • INTERMEDIATE PUBLIC ADVISORIES - Issued every 2 to 3 hours as needed
  • FORECAST/ADVISORIES - Issued every 6 hours as needed
  • DISCUSSIONS - Issued every 6 hours as needed
  • STRIKE PROBABILITY FORECASTS - Issued every 6 hours as needed

For additional information about hurricanes and hurricane safety, visit the National Hurricane Center's Website.

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Lightning Kills! Play it Safe

Maine has the 6th highest per capita lightning casualties rate in the US.

From 2004-2013, Maine's fatality rate per capita ranked 6th highest in the country. These statistics are rather alarming since Maine and New Hampshire have considerably less lightning than virtually all of the country east of the Rocky Mountains. With all our summer recreation activities, and all the visitors to our great outdoors, sometimes we forget to take basic safety precautions.

Lightning facts…

  • No place outside is safe during a thunderstorm.
  • If you hear thunder, you’re likely within striking distance of the storm.

More lightning facts ...


  • Plan outdoor activities to avoid thunderstorms
  • Monitor weather conditions. If you hear thunder, get inside a substantial building immediately.
  • If a substantial building is not available, get inside a hard-topped metal vehicle.
  • Avoid open areas and stay away from isolated tall objects.

More about outdoor lightning safety ...

Indoors …

  • Avoid contact with any equipment connected to electrical power, such as computers or appliances.
  • Avoid contact with water or plumbing.
  • Stay off corded phones.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Remain inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder is heard.

More about indoor lightning safety ...

If someone is struck …

  • Victims do not carry an electrical charge and may need immediate medical attention.
  • Call 911 for help.
  • Monitor the victim and begin CPR or use an AED if necessary.

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Have Fun, but Be Safe

Most lightning deaths and injuries in the United States occur during the summer months and during the afternoon hours when both lightning and outdoor activities reach a peak. During the summer, people take advantage of the warm weather to enjoy a multitude of recreational activities. To be safe, those who are boating, swimming, fishing, bicycling, golfing, jogging, walking, hiking, camping, working, or just outside in their back yards need to take the appropriate actions in a timely manner when thunderstorms approach.

Being outdoors when thunderstorms are nearby is risky. There is simply no safe place outside any time a thunderstorm is nearby.

From 2006 through 2013, 261 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States. Almost two thirds of the deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities. Water-related activities contributed to 37% of leisure-related fatalities. Water-related activities include fishing, boating, swimming, or just relaxing at a beach or lake.

There were quite a few people killed around their home, business, or neighborhood. Most of these victims were only steps from safety. For many of the lightning victims, safe shelters were available; however, the victims simply did not act soon enough to get to safety before they were struck.

While summer is a good time to complete outside work, it is very important to work in a safe environment. Between 2006 and 2013, 38 people were struck and killed by lightning in the US while at work. About two thirds of those were farmers, ranchers, roofers, lawn care or construction workers. Many work activities such as these require extra time to shut down, so it is important to monitor weather conditions so workers can end their activities and get to a safe place.

To minimize your threat of being struck by lightning while outdoors, it is important to know when the lightning threat begins to increase significantly and when the threat is reduced to minimal levels.

In general, the threat begins well before people think it begins, and ends well after people think it ends. Unfortunately, it's this lack of understanding that accounts for many lightning casualties.

No one can completely eliminate the risk of being struck by lightning. But by using some basic rules, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty.

  1. Plan ahead. If thunderstorms are forecast, consider canceling or postponing outdoor activities so that you avoid a potentially dangerous situation. (A portable NOAA Weather Radio is a great outoor companion.)
  2. Monitor the weather conditions. Watch the sky for any signs of a developing or approaching storm, particularly if you need a long time to get to a safe place.
  3. If the sky looks threatening or you hear thunder, immediately seek safety inside a substantial building. If a substantial building is not available, take shelter in a hard-topped metal vehicle. Remain there for at least 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning is seen or the last thunder is heard. Some lightning victims have made the mistake of returning outdoors before the threat is over.
  4. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, there are things you can to to decrease your risk of being struck. But to substantially lower the risk to being struck, you must get inside. If you are outside:
    • Avoid tall objects such as tall trees, poles, and elevated hills,
    • Avoid things that conduct electricity such as metal bleachers or wire fences,
    • Try to get to a safe place as fast as you can,
    • Don't lie on the ground,
    • Avoid objects that conduct electricity.

Organized outdoor activities

Since 2006, sport activities (golf, soccer, running, baseball, football, etc.) contributed to 29 lightning deaths in the Unites States. In many cases, those involved in the activities failed to realize the developing danger.

Make sure in advance that the officials in charge of activities you are involved in have and follow a specific lightning safety plan. Don't be afraid to ask.

For stadiums and larger venues, The National Weather Service has toolkits which provide templates to help design a safety plan. Those tool kits can be found here.

Coaches, umpires, referees, or camp counselors should stop activities early, so that there is sufficient amount of time for the participants and spectators to get to a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant.

If substantial buildings are not available for shelter, cars and buses may provide the best protection. But be sure the windows are closed and that the occupants avoid contact with any metal in the vehicle.

Don't forget your outside pets

Dog houses are not safe. Dogs which are chained to metal chains or wire runners are particularly vulnerable to a nearby lightning strike.

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The answers to these lightning questions have been provided by the National Weather Service.


How powerful is lightning and how fast does it move?


Lightning is a giant spark of electricity. A typical lightning flash contains about 30,000 amps and 300 million volts. This compares to a standard household current of 15 amps and about 120 volts. Typically, a lightning flash is only 1 to 2 inches wide. The step leader that initiates the lightning flash propagates downward from the cloud at a rate of about 320,000 ft per second or about 220,000 miles per hour. The return stroke (the current that cause the visible flash) moves upward at a speed of about 320,000,000 ft per second or about 220,000,000 miles per hour (about 1/3 the speed of light). In comparison, the sound of thunder travels at about 1100 ft per second or about 750 miles per hour.


How can you tell how far a flash of lightning is away from you?


While you see the visible flash of lightning almost instantaneously, the sound of the thunder travels at a speed of about 1100 feet per second or about 1 mile in 5 seconds. For every 5 seconds between the time you observe the lightning and the time you hear the thunder, the lightning flash is 1 mile away. If it takes 10 seconds between the lightning flash and the thunder, the lightning flash was 2 miles away. For 15 seconds, the flash would be three miles away. Unfortunately, this method only works for the previous flash and does not tell you how close the next lightning strike will be. Generally, if you hear thunder, you are within striking distance for the next flash of lightning. If you are not in a safe place at the time, move to a safe place immediately.


Are there any signs that a lightning strike is imminent?


Sometimes, but not always. In either case, there is little, if any, time to take action to protect yourself. Some of the signs include:

  1. Your hair stands on end (as charges from the ground surge to the top of your head)
  2. You hear a distinctive snapping or crackling sound (small discharges of static electricity may occur in an area where lightning is about to strike)
  3. You experience a tingling sensation (electrical charges may be moving through your body)
  4. There is a sudden increase in the static on portable electronic devices (electrical charges may be moving through the devices, and
  5. An abnormal burning smell in the air (static discharges within the air give off an unusual odor)

If you see any of these signs, lightning is about to strike you or somewhere very near you. It is extremely important that you plan ahead to avoid this situation. You could be killed at any instant.


Is it safe to talk on a cordless phone during a thunderstorm?


Compared to talking on a corded phone, the cordless phone is much less of a hazard. However, there is a momentary risk of being struck by lightning when the phone is being removed from the cradle. Once out of the cradle, it is safe to use a cordless phone during a thunderstorm, provided, of course, that you are in a safe place.


What are lightning rods and how do they work?


Lightning rods protect a home from a direct lightning strike, but they do not prevent a home from being struck. They are designed to intercept lightning, to provide a conductive path for the harmful electrical discharge to flow, and to disperse the energy safely into the ground. While lightning rods help protect a structure from a direct lightning strike, a complete lightning protection system is needed to help prevent harmful electrical surges and possible fires cause by lightning entering a structure via wires and pipes. Lightning protection systems should be purchased from and installed by a certified lightning protection specialist.


What are the chances that a person will be struck by lightning during his or her lifetime?


Based on documented cases of lightning deaths and injuries, the nationwide odds of being killed or injured by lightning are estimated to be about 1 in 400,000 for each year of your life. Assuming a life span of 80 years, that's lifetime odds of more than 1 in 12,000. Keep in mind, though, that your behavior around thunderstorms will determine your individual odds. If you are aware of all the threats posed by lightning and act accordingly, your chances for being struck by lightning will be considerably lower. On the other hand, if you are not aware of those dangers or don't take the appropriate safety precautions, your odds of being struck by lightning will be higher.


What do I do if someone is struck by lightning?


Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and may need immediate medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented with proper first aid. Call 911 and then give first aid. CPR and use of an AED (automatic external defibrillator) may be needed.

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...from the National Weather Service

Did you know ...

  • What is often referred to as "HEAT LIGHTNING" is simply the lightning from a distant thunderstorm that is too far away for the resultant thunder to be heard. In most cases, the light you observe is being reflected off clouds near the horizon. Keep an eye on the storm though, since it may be headed in your direction.
  • Lightning can strike up to ten miles ahead of, or ten miles behind a thunderstorm.
  • Most lightning deaths occur during the summer months, and during the late afternoon and evening. These are the times when lightning is most likely to occur and when people are more likely to be caught out-of-doors.
  • In the U.S., an average of 204 people are injured and 51 killed each year by lightning, which is more than hurricanes.
  • An AM radio can be used to monitor for any lightning activity. Tune the radio to an unused frequency and listen for the static caused by a lightning discharge. Your radio will be able to pick up this static from greater distances than you'd be able to hear thunder.
  • The average flash of lightning contains enough electricity to light a 100 watt light bulb for more than 3 months or the equivalent compact fluorescent bulb for about a year.

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When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors -- but Where?

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. In assessing the safety provided by a building, consider what happens if the structure gets struck by lightning, rather than whether the structure will be struck. In fact, on average, lightning causes about 4400 house fires and 1800 other structural fires each year, some of which are deadly. All totaled, lightning causes nearly $1 billion in damages each year.

For a shelter to provide protection from lightning, it must be able to conduct the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground. The mechanisms to do this may be on the outside of the structure, contained within the walls, or may be a combination of the two.

On the outside, lightning can travel along the outer shell of the building or may follow metal gutters and down spouts to the ground. Inside, lightning can follow conductors such as the electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.

Most small structures do not protect occupants from lightning. Many small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning. A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.

There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings:

  1. A direct strike,
  2. Through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and
  3. Through the ground

Regardless of how it enters, once in a structure the lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

In the past, the use of corded phones was the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. However, with more and more cordless and cell phones in use, the number of phone injuries has been diminishing.

At the same time, the number of children injured while playing video games that are plugged into a wall or television has been increasing. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.

Lightning safety inside the home

  1. Avoid contact with corded phones
  2. Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords.
  3. Unplug electronic equipment, such as computers and video games, WELL BEFORE the storm arrives.
  4. Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
  5. Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  6. Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.

In general, basements are a safe place to go during thunderstorms. However, there are some things to keep in mind. Avoid contact with concrete walls which may contain metal reinforcing bars. Avoid washers and dryers since they not only have contacts with plumbing and electrical systems, but also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent.

Avoiding lightning damage

Lightning also causes significant damage to personal property each year. In addition to direct strikes, lightning generates electrical surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike.

  1. Unplug sensitive electronic equipment from all conductors WELL BEFORE a thunderstorm threatens. (For your safety, do not unplug equipment from the wall when a thunderstorm is nearby.)
  2. Disconnect televisions or radios from outdoor antennas.
  3. Unplug unneeded equipment before you leave for any stretch of time during the warm weather when thunderstorms are likely.

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A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity and for which there is no vaccine. Pandemic flu is very different from the seasonal flu that we experience every winter for which there is some level of immunity and vaccines are available.

Flu pandemics occurred in 1918, 1957 and 1968. All countries, including the United States, are taking steps to take good care of sick people, and minimize the spread of the disease.

There are some things you can do to be prepared should a flu pandemic occur:

Prepare in the same way as you would for any disaster. Make sure you have an emergency plan, an emergency kit for your home, and a communications plan for your family.

Add to your disaster supply kit:

  • Non-prescription drugs and other health remedies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes and vitamins.

To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection:

  • Teach your children to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or their sleeves.
  • Keep your children home when they are sick.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Stay healthy: Eat a balanced diet, exercise and get plenty of sleep.

Be aware of what is going on with regard to pandemic flu.

  • If a pandemic should break out, listen to your state and local health officials and do what they say.
  • Be prepared to help others in your family, your friends and your neighbors.

As in any major disaster, we would need each other.

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This information is courtesy of the MaineCDC and the Maine Department of Marine Resources:

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), also called "red tide", is a marine biotoxin that is associated with certain types of algae blooms in coastal waters. Bivalve shellfish eat and filter the toxic algae, and the concentrations of the toxin can cause serious illness or death if eaten by humans.

Consumers concerned about obtaining safe shellfish should buy from certified shellfish dealers whose operations undergo rigorous public health screening and auditing.

Symptoms of PSP include tingling of face and neck areas, headaches, nausea, and muscle weakness. In extreme cases, these symptoms can lead to respiratory failure. Symptoms usually occur within two hours of eating contaminated shellfish. Anyone who has eaten shellfish and has these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

The Maine DMR monitors shellfish beds closely and closes areas to shellfish harvesting if levels of PSP are noted to be high. Because of this well developed testing and closure system, coupled with effective law enforcement, Maine has a long history of successfully preventing consumers from being exposed to shellfish from areas closed because of red tide.

The Department of Marine Resources Public Health Division routinely test shellfish along Maine's entire coast to test for harmful red tide levels. For current closure information, visit the Department of Marine Resources Red Tide Closure page.

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The National Weather Service uses a WATCH and WARNING program to alert the public to potentially threatening weather. In the summertime, watches and warnings are issued for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods, and special marine warnings are issued for gusty winds in marine areas.

  • WATCH indicates that the atmospheric conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop. If a WATCH has been issued for your area, keep an eye on the sky, and monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local broadcast media for any possible warnings.
  • WARNING indicates that severe weather is imminent in or is already occuring. If a WARNING has been issued for your area, be prepared to seek a safe shelter if you are in the path of the storm.

Basic Definitions of Events

  • SEVERE THUNDERSTORM - A thunderstorm that produces damaging wind gusts of 58 mph or more, and/or hail 3/4 inch or greater in diameter.
  • TORNADO - A violently rotating column of air that extends from a cloud to the ground.
  • FLASH FLOOD - Flooding that occurs very rapidly, usually due to very heavy rain from a slow moving thunderstorm.
In addition to these warnings which are issued for land areas, the National Weather Service issues Special Marine Warnings for marine areas.
  • SPECIAL MARINE WARNING - Issued for marine areas for storms with frequent wind gusts of 34 kts (about 39 mph) or greater.

One of the best ways to monitor these conditions is by purchasing an alert-activated NOAA Weather Radio for your home or business.

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The thought of a terrorist attack is disturbing, no matter where it might occur. This, of course, would be particularly true if we have another attack in the United States. Although Maine is not considered a prime target for terrorist activities, State and Federal agencies in Maine have taken steps designed to prevent an attack from occurring, protect our critical infrastructure and respond in the unlikely event an attack should occur here.

Here are some tips to help you should an attack occur in the US:

  • If you have family in areas that may be more likely than Maine to suffer an attack, make sure you have a plan to communicate with them. Remember that cell phones may be jammed. So think about some other ways to get in touch, such as e-mail, pager, texting, voice mail messages, etc. Planning ahead is very important. It can save you a lot of anxiety.
  • In the hours after an attack there is likely to be confusion about what exactly has happened. Although imperfect, the media is likely to be your best source of information in the immediate aftermath of an event.
  • State, County and local officials will be monitoring the situation. Stay informed. Listen to local radio stations and follow any instructions you receive. If there is information you need to know right away, MEMA may use the Emergency Alert System (EAS). It will be an alert signal on your radio, followed by emergency information or it will show up as a scroll across the bottom of your TV screen providing you with information or directing you to additional information. If you are deaf or hearing impaired and have a pager through the Telecommunications Equipment Program, you will receive a text message.
  • It's important to stay focused on the facts of the sitation. Assess the situation to determine if it affects you either directly or indirectly. Then decide if there are any specific actions you should take. If not, continue your normal routine and activities.
  • Remember that, like 9/11, an attack anywhere in the US may disrupt air travel and other modes of transportation and have other indirect impacts.

To read more about how you can learn about terrorism, and report suspicious activity, visit the Maine Information and Analysis Center.

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A “tornado” is described as a violently whirling column of air extending downward and seen as a rapidly rotating, slender, funnel shaped cloud that has a wind velocity of up to 300 miles per hour. At such intense wind speeds, a tornado can destroy everything along its narrow ground path.

Tornadoes and Maine:

The tornadoes experienced in recent history in Maine have been generated by severe summer storms. The southwestern and central sections of the State have been most often affected. Because of Maine's sparse population, there have not been significant amounts of property damage or personal injury. Mobile homes are most vulnerable to substantial damage.

Maine averages one to two tornadoes per year, typically touching down in uninhabited wooded areas. A tornado touched down in Phippsburg on Thanksgiving Day 2005, causing damage to trees and coastal homes and camps. In 2009 and 2010, tornadoes were verified in Aroostook and in Oxford County, Maine.

What to Look For… Environmental Clues:

Tornadoes often occur with very little advance warning. The best way to be prepared is to stay tuned to television and radio for emergency messages from the National Weather Service. NWS messages may give as little as 5-10 minutes warning before a tornado forms. Be alert for:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Wall cloud
  • Large hail
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

Some tornadoes appear as a visible funnel extending only partially to the ground. Some are clearly visible while other are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds

Tornado Safety:

At the earliest warning, go into a below ground area with flashlights and a radio. Remain there until you are informed that tornado danger has passed. Manufactured (mobile) homes are especially vulnerable and mobile home residents are urged to evacuate to the nearest frame home with a basement.

If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Here are some tornado facts and safety tips.

  • Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries in tornadoes
  • The safest place in your home during a tornado is your basement.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Get out of vehicles or mobile homes, they offer little protection. Seek shelter in a substantial building.
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a bridge overpass. Bridge overpasses offer little, if any, protection from wind- driven debris.

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Hypothermia Prevention Information from the Maine CDC

Stay Warm – Prevent Hypothermia

The Problem of Hypothermia

  • With fuel costs high, it is tempting to turn down the thermostat to save fuel. This may put some people at risk for cold body temperature, also known as hypothermia. Cold outdoor temperatures also mean that people who work (or play) outdoors for long periods also could be at risk.
  • About 750 deaths occur due to hypothermia every year in the U.S.
  • An average of 20 Mainers die every year due to hypothermia, including about 3-4 who die in their homes.
  • High risk populations include people who:
    • Are over 60 years of age, who account for more than half of all hypothermia deaths (they do not shiver or constrict peripheral blood vessels as well and have lower metabolic rates)
    • Are infants (babies under 1 year of age)
    • Have hypothyroidism
    • Drink or abuse alcohol (alcohol results in vasodilation, a relaxation of blood vessels causing heat loss)
    • Have a mental illness
    • Are homeless, poor, and/or live alone
    • Take sedative hypnotics (such as benzodiazepines, chloral hydrate, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine=Benadryl)
    • Take neuroleptic medications (also known as antipsychotics, and include phenothiazines, haloperidol, loxapine, clozapine, zyprexa), which induce vasodilation and reduce shivering responses.

What You Can Do to Prevent Hypothermia

  • Dress in layers.
  • Wear a warm hat – 30% of heat loss is through the head.
  • Wear a scarf and gloves.
  • Infants should be in a room in which the temperature is 61-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and warm/hot drinks.
  • Eat regular balanced meals to give you energy – good nutrition is important.
  • Keep active when it’s cold, but not to the point where you’re sweating.
  • Keep dry and change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
  • Cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, since all three cause heat loss.
  • Try to keep one room in the house warm.
  • Ask your doctor if you are on any medications that affect your ability to maintain a steady body temperature (such as neuroleptic medications and sedative hypnotics).

Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Decreased consciousness, sleepiness, confusion, and/or disorientation
  • Someone who is mildly hypothermic may not take action to warm themselves
  • Shivering, pale or blue skin, numbness, poor coordination, slurred speech
  • In severe hypothermia, shivering decreases or goes away, and the person becomes unconscious and has very shallow breaths.

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A message from the MaineCDC:

Wood Burning and Lung Health: Burn it Smart and Healthy

The Problem of Wood Burning and Lung Health

  • 1 in 3 Maine households have someone living there with asthma, another chronic lung disease, or chronic heart disease. These are households who more commonly report having trouble heating their homes.
  • Maine has the highest childhood and adult asthma rates in the country. 10% of adults and 12% of children in Maine have asthma.
  • Wood is a renewable source of heat. It has some benefits over non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil.
  • However, smoke from wood burning can cause air pollution and public health problems. It can cause or make worse asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. It affects children and the elderly more than others.
  • Half of Maine households heat with at least some wood.
  • Maine homes with an asthmatic child are more likely to have difficulty paying for heat and are more likely to be heating with wood.
  • 1 in 3 Maine wood stove owners report their wood stove is over 20 years of age, i.e. older than the EPA cleaner standards.
  • Heating with wood is less prevalent and heating with oil is most prevalent in York and Cumberland. Heating with wood, especially pellets, is most common in Aroostook.
  • 1 in 7 Maine households allow people to smoke tobacco in their home.

What You Can Do To Improve Air Quality For Breathing While Heating With Wood

  • Weatherize your home, such as closing up areas that will let heat escape.
  • Have your chimney, flue, and woodstove inspected and cleaned at least once per year.
  • Use wood pellets. They burn 25-50% cleaner than cord wood.
  • Replace an old woodstove, fireplace, or fireplace insert (built before the late 1980s) with a newer more efficient EPA-certified equipment that uses less wood and burns up to 90% cleaner.
  • If using cord wood, burn hardwoods that are clean, dry, and seasoned (>6 months) because they burn cleaner and are less likely to pollute the air.
  • Never burn garbage, trash, plastics, styrofoam, paints, painted wood, salt water wood, cleaning chemicals such as solvents, charcoal/coal, or treated woods (treated with varnishes, sealants, or pressure-treated). These substances can result in toxins being burned and released into the air.
  • Burn small hot fires. They produce less smoke than those that are left to smolder.
  • Split wood into 4-6 inch pieces. Fires burn cleaner with more surface area exposed to the flame.
  • Keep your home tobacco smoke free.

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Types of Message

The National Weather Service issues WATCHES, WARNINGS, and ADVISORIES to alert the public to potentially dangerous winter weather events or situations.

  • A WINTER STORM WATCH means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area, but its occurrence, location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of the possibility of severe winter weather. A winter storm watch is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set plans in motion can do so.

  • A WINTER STORM WARNING is issued when 4 or more inches of snow or sleet is expected in the next 12 hours, or 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion is expected.

  • A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY informs you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous.

If caution is exercised, these situations should not be life threatening.

Blizzard Warning

Means that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

  • Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.

The NWS does not issue watches or warnings for storms that produce less than 4 inches of snowfall, but these storms can be deceptively dangerous. The majority of deaths linked to snow storms are as a result of traffic accidents, and many of those accidents occur with only small accumulations of snow. Slow down as soon as snow begins to accumulate.

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The Maine Department of Transportation recommends these items for your car as you prepare for winter:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and broom
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Tire chains or traction mats
  • Healthy snacks and water
    • In a Maine winter, remember that water left overnight in your car will probably freeze!
  • First aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Basic tool kit
  • Good spare tire and jack
  • Flares or reflectors
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Brightly colored cloth for emergency flagging
  • Cell phone and emergency phone numbers
    • Program those numbers into your phone in advance
  • Extra boots, gloves, socks and warm hat rain or waterproof gear
  • Sand or kitty litter
    • To help with traction if you are stuck
  • Salt:
    • To help melt ice
  • Map:
    • To help direct rescuers to your location

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The best things in life are free...

Like being ready as a family for any emergency. Here are some simple steps to get you started. And they are absolutely free.

  • Talk about what might happen: blizzard, fire, flooding, etc.
  • How would you find out about it?
  • Do you know how to contact each other? (See Communications Plan)
  • What would you need if you couldn't get out for a few days?
  • What are the most important things to take with you if you had to leave your home? If you go to a shelter, you may need pillows, blankets, and snacks to eat until the shelter is fully functioning. Think about financial papers, check books, credit cards, etc.
  • Plan together about the special needs of your children and others in your family.
  • Is there a blanket or special toy loved by a child?
  • Is there a member of your family who requires special accommodations?
  • Plan for your pets as well. They are a part of your family too.

Low Cost, High Value

Once you have talked through how you would deal with an emergency as a family, there may be a few things that you don't have on hand, that you want to pick up.

  • Flashlights or a battery radio if you don't have one
  • Fresh batteries for your flashlights and radio
  • Non-perishable food for your home supply kit, or "Go kit" (what's on sale this week?)
  • A little extra pet food or litter, to make sure you have enough on hand.

Use our Build a Disaster Supply Kit to begin making small purchases that can help out a lot. You're on your way!

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The first step in becoming prepared for an emergency as a family, is to discover what kinds of things could affect you where you live, work and go to school.

This certainly means major disasters such as floods or chemical spills, but could be something that affects just your family, like an unexpected illness, or other event.

Here are some simple steps to get you started with your plan.

  • Talk about what might happen: blizzard, fire, flooding, etc.
  • How would you find out about it?
  • Do you know how to contact each other? (See Communications Plan)
  • What would you need if you couldn't get out for a few days? (See Building a Disaster Kit)
  • What are the most important things to take with you if you have to leave? If you go to a shelter, you may need pillows, blankets, and snacks to eat until the shelter is fully functioning. Think about financial papers, check books, credit cards, etc.
  • Plan together about the special needs of your children and others in your family.
  • Is there a blanket or special toy loved by a child?
  • Is there a member of your family who requires special accommodations?
  • Plan for your pets as well. Most shelters will not accept pets.
  • Check with your local Emergency Management Director about pets. Take extra food and water for your pet if you have to leave.

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What will you need if you can't get out for three days and don't have electricity? Here are some suggestions:

  • 3-day supply of nonperishable food that does not require cooking
  • 3-day supply of water (1 gallon of water per person, per day)
  • Portable, battery powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Cash
  • Telephone that works if the electricity is off
  • A safe way to heat food and water: camp stove, etc.
  • A way to keep warm if the power is off: sleeping bags, extra blankets, etc.
  • 3-day supply of your medicines on hand at all times
  • Items for infants: formula, diapers, etc.
  • Food and water for pets

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Your family may not be together when disaster strikes. During a major disaster local phone systems and cell phone systems may be jammed.

  • Plan how you will contact one another and what you will do.
  • Establish an out-of-town contact, perhaps a relative or friend.
  • Establish a meeting place outside your neighborhood, perhaps a family member or friend.
  • Make sure everyone has the contact numbers and addresses of the out-of-town contact and the meeting place.
  • Make sure family members have each other's contact numbers at work, school, daycare, etc.
  • Keep phone numbers up to date.

It's possible that during a major emergency, cell phone service may become overloaded as many people try to call family and friends.

In this situation, short text messages sent by cell phone may get through easier, since they take up far less "space" on the cell signal.

  • Make sure your phone list includes cell numbers
  • Learn how to use the text message feature on your cell phone
  • Practice it!

If you don't know how to text, ask your children or grandchildren to show you!

As a reminder, Maine state law now forbids text messaging while driving.

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The most important thing you can have in any emergency is good information. Knowing what is happening, or what could happen, allows you to make good decisions for yourself and your family.

  • Pay attention to what is going on in your community that may threaten your family: severe weather, fires, flooding, etc.
  • Pay attention to weather forecasts from your favorite radio or television station, or on the Internet.
  • Find out how your town or water district would let you know if there was a local emergency, or a boil water order.
  • Consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio in order to receive alerts.
  • Alert devices are available for the hearing impaired. Contact the Maine Center on Deafness (207.797.7656 TTY/V) for more information.
  • Consider signing up for Maine.gov's Citizen Alert System, to receive e-mail or cell phone notification of State government office closures or alerts issued by State agencies.

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We have more ways to communicate with each other than ever before. But sometimes the information we receive -- or pass on -- just isn't correct.

A message flashed on the Internet can reach thousands of people in seconds. A relative or friend may have forwarded a warning, or a story that sounds true. But unfortunately, the information may simply be an unverified story, or worse, be deliberately and cruelly false.

A partially heard news bulletin on television or radio can be misinterpreted in a time of heightened concern.

It is our responsibility as citizens to be sure of the truthfulness of information before we act on it or pass it on. Always check out information, even if it came from a friend who innocently sent it on to you.

If you are concerned about something you believe you heard on the news

  • Listen to the news again carefully to make sure you heard the story correctly.
  • If need be, call a local, county or state official for confirmation.

Check the reliability of e-mail or internet information.

Some excellent Internet sites can be helpful in separating real information from hoaxes. We have provided several references below.

To check on the authenticity of computer virus warning messages, visit the website of your anti-virus software provider.


With the advent of the Internet, we all have the power to become "publishers" of information. All the time, but especially during an emergency, we all also have a responsibility to make sure that information we send to others is accurate.

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Mainers should be extremely careful when using a gas-powered generator or similar alternative heating or power sources. Improper operation or placement of such devices can lead to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Power Outages

A Message from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)

Warning signs of CO poisoning are flu-like symptoms without fever (such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion). CO poisoning can also result in coma and death. CO is an odorless gas emitted when burning most fuels. Improper operation or placement of alternative heating or power sources can result in poisoning when CO gas builds-up in enclosed spaces.

A State study of the CO poisoning epidemic, in the aftermath of the January 1998 ice storm power outages, found that improper placement of a gasoline generator, such as in a basement or garage, could increase the risk of poisoning up to 300-fold. When the power went out for several days after Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of two deaths and four non-fatal poisonings in Maine. In each case, the carbon monoxide came from improper use of generators.

Using a kerosene heater in a room without any doors to other rooms opened, or failing to crack a window, also put people at increased risk for CO poisoning.

To Avoid CO Poisoning During Power Outages:

  • Place generators outdoors in the fresh air
  • Make a plan for how to keep your generator dry and protected from ice and snow so you are not tempted to bring it inside a garage or other enclosed structure. Generators also pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially in wet conditions. Dry your hands before touching a generator.
  • Ensure the generator is at least 15 feet away from home windows or doors
  • Ensure the generator is not placed in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space (such as basement, cellar bulkhead, attached garage) where carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels.
  • Use kerosene heaters in a well ventilated room, by either keeping doors to other rooms open or keeping a window partially open (at least 1 inch)
  • Use only K-1 grade fuel in kerosene heaters. Follow instructions for setting the wick height.
  • Do not use outdoor cooking devices indoors (such as gas or charcoal grills, gas camp stoves).
  • Do not use indoor gas cooking stoves for heat.
  • Keep chimney flue and a window open when burning decorative gas fireplace logs as a heat source.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector that is battery powered (or has battery back-up power) outside each sleeping area. CO detectors are in most stores. Look for the UL mark with the "Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm" statement.

If You Suspect CO Poisoning

If you or anyone in the home suspect you are being poisoned by carbon monoxide:

  • Leave the house immediately, and then call your local fire department or 911.
  • Seek medical attention by contacting either the Northern New England Poison Center (800-222-1222) or your physician after you have left the area where you suspect the carbon monoxide is present.
  • Do not go back into the building until you know the CO levels are safe.

The following publications are from the MaineCDC:

(These publications are in Adobe .pdf format)

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The first person to respond to an accident or illness at your home is you. Some simple steps can ensure you are prepared to respond quickly if a family member or neighbor has an accident, or is suddenly taken ill.

  • Look up and post emergency numbers near every phone in your home, and carry a copy with you
  • Make a list of medications and allergies for all family members, keep copies where they are easy to see. (Also carry the information with you)
  • Build a first aid kit with the essential supplies you might need
  • Get first aid training, to be that much more prepared for the unexpected
  • Make sure your house number is clearly displayed so emergency responders can find you

Supplies to be included in a First Aid Kit:

  • Adhesive tape
  • Alcohol-based hand cleaner
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Bandaids
  • 3” Sterile roller bandages
  • Betadine antiseptic solution
  • Chemical cold pack
  • 2” Sterile gauze pads
  • 4” Sterile gauze pads
  • Non-prescription drugs/pain relievers
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors/Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Non-latex medical gloves

Post Important Information:

  • Doctor’s telephone numbers
  • Hospital’s telephone numbers
  • Family/Friend’s telephone numbers
  • Updated list of medication
  • Updated list of allergies


First aid training, to include CPR, is available through a number of local organizations.

To Register for a Course:

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During an emergency, the time you have to protect or evacuate livestock will be limited. Here are some questions to consider in your advance planning:

Do you know where you could take your livestock?

Identify a safe location to take your livestock. Inform friends and neighbors of your evacuation plans and post detailed instructions in several places in case you are unable to evacuate them yourself.

Make arrangements in advance to have your livestock trailered in an emergency. If you do not have a trailer, have several people on standby to help.


Because of their size and transportation needs, owners of horses need to take additional steps:

  • Keep a seven day supply of hay and feed in the barn
  • Have a breakable halter and lead for each horse
  • Make sure you can access a trailer
  • Create a first aid kit for your animal
  • Know where to quickly retrieve medical records including vaccination and Coggins test results
  • Have photos of you and your horse together to help identify it

Livestock Trailer Safety:

  • Have the appropriate size vehicle available for towing
  • Make sure the hitch is properly secured
  • Take the time to connect the safety chain correctly to the vehicle frame
  • Do the brakes and lights work?
  • Is your trailer properly registered?
  • Is the trailer free from debris and safe?

Are all your livestock identified?

Halters should include the animal’s name, your name and phone number, and a secondary number. Should you consider a tattoo or ear tags?

If evacuation isn’t necessary can you shelter in place?

Be sure you have adequate supplies of food and water. Also consider methods of providing water and food should you be without electricity. Maine livestock owners have lost power for as long as three weeks in recent years.

Hazards to consider and prepare for:

If your home or barn loses electricity, consider the other losses:

  • Electric fences will no longer function
  • Loss of ability to pump water
  • May not have operational heating or cooling systems

To best plan for these hazards:

  • Purchase and maintain a generator adequate to provide necessary back-up power
  • Consider storing water, even in garbage buckets lined with plastic bags
  • Make sure fencing is adequate without electricity
  • Keep flashlights handy

After a Disaster:

  • Assess all of your structures to ensure safety. Document (and photograph, if possible) any damages.
  • Make sure your fencing is intact
  • Make sure water and feed is not contaminated

Now that you are prepared, help others in your community.

Get involved in with your County Animal Response Team (CART). CART teams are part of the County Emergency Management Agency. These teams of trained volunteers who provide critical assistance in animal rescue and provide sheltering of both pets and livestock.

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Because of the size and transportation needs of horses, owners need to take special steps to prepare for and respond to emergencies:

  • Keep a seven day supply of hay and feed in the barn
  • Have a breakable halter and lead for each horse
  • Make sure you can access a trailer
  • Create a first aid kit for your animal
  • Know where to quickly retrieve medical records including vaccination and Coggins test results
  • Have photos of you and your horse together to help identify it should it escape

In case of barn fire – special considerations for horse owners:

  • Blindfold horses only if absolutely necessary. Many horses will balk at a blindfold, making evacuation more difficult and time consuming.
  • Move your horses to paddocks close enough to reach quickly but far enough from the barn that the horses will not be affected by the fire and smoke. Never let horses loose in an area where they are able to return to the barn.
  • After the fire, be sure to have all your livestock checked by a veterinarian. Smoke inhalation can cause serious lung damage and respiratory complications. Horses are prone to stress and may experience colic after a fire.

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A barn fire is a frightening event for farmers and livestock, and can become a tragedy. Here are some tips to help in your planning:

Have you done everything to prevent and prepare for barn fires?

  • Prohibit smoking in or around the barn areas
  • Restrict access to your barn, and keep it clean and free of debris
  • If possible, store hay and bedding in another building
  • Make sure electrical wiring is up to code
  • Install lightning protection and have fire extinguishers on hand
  • Install heat or smoke detectors, and barn sprinklers
  • Restrict tractor and motor vehicle use in the barn
  • Plan an evacuation route and practice fire drills. Include your livestock and desensitize them to flashlights and flashing lights
  • Post emergency numbers at each telephone and at each entrance
  • Invite the local fire department over to identify hazards

In the Event of a Barn Fire:

  • Immediately call 911
  • Use fire extinguishers if the fire is manageable.
  • Do not enter the barn if it is already engulfed in flames
  • If it is safe for you to enter the barn, evacuate animals one at a time starting with the most accessible. Be sure to put a halter and lead rope on each when you open the stall door.
  • After the fire, be sure to have all your livestock checked by a veterinarian. Smoke inhalation can cause serious lung damage and respiratory complications.

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You’re watching the news. You see a disaster happening and you want to help. You have a skill you think might be useful, or you are willing to do anything at all.


Review these guidelines before you volunteer to work at a disaster site. Following them will help you...and help the disaster survivors.


Become a member of a recognized volunteer organization. You can go to the website for National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters to find an organization that responds to large disasters and fits you. You can affiliate with a national organization by connecting with their local chapters via VolunteerMaine. Most organizations will not accept spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, so we recommend you join during “blue skies.” After joining, let the organization know the skills you have and the skills you want to acquire so they can provide you with the most appropriate training for disaster response and recovery services.

When you arrive at the scene, you will be expected, and trusted as a member of a relief organization.

If you are not pre-affiliated with a relief organization but still want to help after a local disaster, check out VolunteerMaine’s disaster page for instructions on registering as a disaster service volunteer and tips for volunteering. You can also check out VolunteerMaine at any time, not just when a disaster happens, to see what opportunities there are to prepare to be part of disaster relief efforts.

If you have trouble navigating the Volunteer Maine website, you can call 2-1-1 Maine (dial 2-1-1, toll free) and they will assist you.

If you arrive at a disaster scene on your own, you are a burden, not a help.

Facilities for feeding, housing, personal hygiene, and health care are usually scarce. Priority will be given to the survivors and volunteers who are part of an organizational team. See Affiliate, above.

Be patient and flexible:

Be prepared to step into any of a variety of roles, depending on the needs. Volunteers expecting to enter a response or relief effort in a certain capacity are often disappointed. Sometimes a volunteer's special talents are not immediately needed.

Know the liability situation.

Check that there is coverage by liability clauses in the insurance structure of the volunteer agency organization with which you affiliate. Volunteers not registered with a disaster response organization are responsible for themselves, and have little legal protection.

Remember that the use of volunteers is a coordinated process.

Volunteers are most useful when they are able to do the right thing at the right time. That is, they are used as part of an organized recovery process. Volunteer agencies coordinate the assignment of people with abilities, skills, and training to special tasks.

Be committed to the response effort.

Response and recovery work is usually dirty, monotonous, mundane, and not glamorous. There is little individual recognition. Be committed to working under such conditions.

Sometimes, the best way to help is to donate cash to the relief effort, rather than to try to offer yourself or your things

The organizations involved in the response and recovery process after a disaster most often need cash to best serve the survivors. Check out other ways you can help here.

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Money and Goods

Most often, the best way you can help others during a disaster is to donate money or goods. Here are some helpful tips to make sure your generosity helps the most. Giving cash is always the best way to help disaster recovery because of its flexibility and ability to boost the local economy’s recovery.

If you’d rather donate goods, make sure you are only donating items that have been specifically requested by an organization directly involved in the recovery effort and that you have made contact with someone at that organization who will receive the items from you.

  • You can help disaster recovery by sharing proven guidance within your community, schools, parishes, sororities and fraternities about needs-based assistance and how smart compassion does more good for more people more quickly and with less hassle and expense for donors and relief workers.

  • Instead of donating your used items, hold a rummage sale, raffle, or silent auction and donate the proceeds.

  • Organize a fundraising walk or run and register participants who have received monetary pledges from donors.

  • Organize an event, such as a local concert, food fair, or art festival, and donate admission fees and other proceeds.

Charitable Organizations

Are you unsure about giving money to a charitable organization? Here are some websites that can help you determine how charitable organizations rank. Most reputable organizations will allow you to designate your donation for a specific disaster or program:

  • Charity Navigator rates charities based on their financial health, accountability and transparency, and results reporting. They also list some best practices for savvy donors.

  • The Better Business Bureau also rates charitable organizations and allows you to check out specific charities and donor reviews.

  • GuideStar is another place to find reliable information on trusted nonprofits, as well as tips on choosing the right charity to give to.

  • The Federal Trade Commission officer this advice for giving wisely after a disaster.

  • The Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division also has excellent tips for donating to charities.

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The effect of a disaster on your family's lives and finances can be as devastating as physical damages to your home. Taking care to protect your financial, insurance and medical records can save you a great deal of stress and heartache after the storm. Consider these simple steps:

Household Inventory

Perform an inventory of your household. Many insurance companies offer a booklet to do this. If yours doesn’t, photograph or videotape each room, including closets and storage areas, identifying the items, when they were purchased and their approximate cost. Make a copy of your finished product for storage in a safe deposit box. Update it when major items are added or replaced.

Credit Card Account Numbers, Bank Account Numbers, Other Financial Details

Develop a list of financial information including credit card numbers and the numbers to report lost or stolen cards; bank account numbers and the bank names and locations. Identify stocks and bonds, contracts that have financial implications. Deeds. Make a duplicate copy for your safe deposit box.

Insurance Policies

List the policies and key information for each including homeowners, life, health, vehicle, business policies. Make a duplicate copy for your safe deposit box

Medical Information

Capture important medical information regarding each person. Include physicians’ names and phone numbers, medical conditions, food and drug allergies, surgical procedures, immunizations records, prescription medicines by name and dosage, vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter medicines taken regularly. Add a photocopy of your medical insurance card(s).

Identification Information

Gather identification information for each family member that includes a recent photograph. Include contact information (by name, address and telephone number) for home, work, school, church, and emergency family contacts. Add birth, death, marriage and divorce records and Social Security cards and Passports. Make a copy for your safe deposit box.

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As you make your family plan, consider what emergency situations might require you to evacuate from your home. Preparing ahead will help you if events require you to leave your home.

Remember, if your local officials advise you to evacuate, it is because your life is at risk if you stay. Please obey any evacuation orders.

If you must evacuate your home and have time to prepare:

  • Determine where you will go and make appropriate arrangements (reservations in a hotel, advise family or friends you are coming to them, etc.)
  • Maintain at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
  • Plan to take the following:
    • Cash and credit cards
    • Season-appropriate clothing for each family member for several days
    • Personal hygiene supplies appropriate for each family member
    • Prescription medications and a list of them, by family member, name and strength
    • Blankets or sleeping bags
    • Important records and documents preassembled in a waterproof container (see our fact sheet on Financial Disaster Planning)
    • Portable radio, either battery or hand crank, extra batteries
    • Flashlight, battery or hand crank, extra batteries
    • Snacks and food not requiring refrigeration, can opener if needed
    • Games, cards, crossword puzzles, entertainment items
    • First Aid Kit and Guide
    • Your pet(s) in pet carriers together with ownership documentation, immunization records, food, water, dishes, leashes (Note: Ensure your destination will accept pets!)

Before you evacuate your home and if you have time

  • Turn off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so
  • Notify a friend, neighbor or relative where you plan to go

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The NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) system broadcasts pre-event warnings and post-event information for all types of public hazards such as weather (hurricane, tornado, dam breach, flood), natural (earthquake, forest fires), technological (chemical release, oil spill), and national emergencies (nuclear, biological, chemical). The NOAA Weather Radio system is the most reliable, effective, single source available to the public for comprehensive weather and emergency information.

For a small investment NWR will warn you of approaching severe weather and other fast-breaking emergency situations. Weather Radios, like smoke detectors, alert people even while they’re sleeping to possibly hazardous situations.

Broadcast coverage is almost 100% in Maine. Weather Alert Radio are useful travel accessories since they receive constantly updated local weather information that NWR broadcasts around the clock.

There are many manufacturers of Weather Alert Radios, offering a variety of models, features, and prices. All Weather Alert Radios include two basic capabilities: battery back up operation and a “set it and forget it” emergency alert mode. When a warning is issued, the National Weather service broadcasts a special tone that causes all Weather Alert Radios to sound a loud ten-second alert tone. The Weather Radio is then turned on to hear the broadcast. Some of the more expensive models can be set to automatically go to the voice message when an alert is transmitted. There are also models with an alarm out jack that allow the Weather Alert Radio to be tied into some home security systems.

For a slightly higher cost, weather alert radio models are available with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME). This feature allows the user to limit weather radio alerts to only those that affect a specific area, and to choose which hazards will activate the Weather Radio alert tone. Add-on accessories are available for the deaf or hearing impaired, such as pillow vibrators, bed shakers, and strobe lights.

For about $60.00 a pair, one could have a battery operated models, with belt clips, that have both SAME and Family Radio Service (FRS) capability. FRS allows for two-way voice communication of up to ten miles between all FRS radios that are set to the same channel.

Purchase Considerations:

  • What is the range of the model? Lower priced models may not pull in stations that are further away. This may be okay if the Weather Alert Radio will be permanently located in an area with a strong signal.
  • Do you need an additional antenna to increase reception?
  • If a battery-operated model, are the batteries easily found types (AA, 9-volt)?
  • Does the model have jacks for an external antenna and AC/DC adapter?
  • Will you need to purchase additional accessories and will the model you choose accommodate them?

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If you might need to evacuate, or just weather an emergency in your home, your personal Go-Bag will make sure you have those essentials things you need. Keep these items in your Go Bag, ready for any emergency:

  • List of your Emergency Contacts, including a phone number for an out-of-state contact
  • Three-day supply of medications, and copies of your prescriptions
  • List of personal medical information and medications, including any drug and/or food allergies
  • Bottle of water
  • Snacks (that will not spoil)
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries (for flashlight, hearing aids, etc.)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle, horn, beeper or other device to signal for help
  • Photocopy of personal identification (driver’s license, state ID, etc.)
  • List of model and serial numbers of any personal assistance equipment (pacemakers, hearing aids, communication devices, scooter, wheelchair, batteries, etc.
  • Assistive items needed for eating or drinking (spoons, straws, etc.)

You may also wish to add:

  • Pictures of your family/friends to have with you if you must be away from home
  • Personal memento/comfort item (stuffed animal, book, etc.)
  • Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses (with cleaning solution), and/or other vital personal items
  • Small battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Dust mask
  • Protective goggles
  • Small amount of cash, including coins for payphones
  • Extra set of keys to house, car, etc.
  • Personal hygiene and toiletry products
  • Moist towelettes and assorted sizes of re-sealable plastic zipper bags (for storing food, waste, etc.)
  • Change of socks and undergarments
  • Any other items you need on a daily basis
Mark your calendar to remind you to check your Go Bag every six months. Replace your medications and snacks with fresh supplies. Check batteries in flashlight, radio, etc. and extra batteries to be sure they are still good!

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Like everyone else, you need to be ready to stay at home or to leave quickly, to keep aware of what is going on, and to have prepared so you can stay at home for several days or leave quickly.

In addition to what everyone else should plan for, you should assess what special items you may need to have available and what special assistance you may need to be able to either stay at home or leave it for several days.

  • You may need to include family, friends, personal attendants, service providers and others as a part of your plan.
    • Have more than one person who is convenient to your home, two or three more at where you work and so on. When you identify these people early in your planning, they can develop their family plans at the same time, easing the stress and eliminating much of the confusion when something does happen.
  • If you use special equipment (walker, augmentative communication device, hearing aid, even glasses), label it with your name and contact information if possible. At least put a mark on small items so they will be easy to identify.
  • Put extra batteries, chargers, medications and a list of them by name, dosage, frequency and the doctor with your emergency telephone list.
  • If medications need to be refrigerated, keep a cooler and ice packs available.
  • If you have a service animal, have identification tags, proof of vaccinations and veterinarian contact, along with extra food if you need to leave or must stay in your home.
  • If you receive regular services such as home health care, or transportation, learn how to contact them in an emergency. Ask them to identify a back-up service provider.
  • Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet, or write down your disability-related or health condition on a piece of paper and keep it with you.
  • If you use electrically dependent equipment, consider storing a manual substitute in your home or office in case you run out of a power source.
  • If necessary, look into evacuation assistive devices or the installation of ramps.

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During a power outage, or when one source of fuel such as propane or heating oil is in short supply, we may turn to another way to heat our homes. There are a number of safety considerations when you are using an alternate heat source.

For all homeowners, but especially those using alternate heat sources, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors can save your life. Make sure those detectors are installed and working correctly. Please also read our fact sheet on Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Electric space heaters

Electric space heaters should always be carefully checked before using them, and monitored constantly while they are in use. Even if they came with safety features such as automatic turn-offs, monitor the heater yourself to make sure it is operating safely.

  • Use heaters on the floor. Never place heaters on furniture, since they may fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater, which could result in a fire or shock hazard.
  • Keep heaters away from wet or moist places, such as bathrooms; corrosion or other damage to parts in the heater may lead to a fire or shock hazard. Never use heaters to thaw pipes, or dry laundry.
  • Keep cords out from under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat, and can cause a fire.
  • Do not use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. Using a light-duty, household extension cord with high-wattage appliances can start a fire. If you must use an extension cord, it should be a heavy duty core such as those sold as an air conditioner extension cord (marked #14 or #12 A WG; this tells the thickness or gauge of the wire in the cord. The smaller the number, the greater the thickness of the wire.)
  • Be sure the plug fits snugly in the outlet. Since a loose plug can overheat, have a qualified repairman replace the worn-out plug or outlet. Since heaters draw lots of power, the cord and plug may feel warm. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repairman check for problems. If the heater and its plug are found to be working properly, have the outlet replaced. Using a heater with a hot cord or plug could start a fire.
  • If a heater is used on an outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and the GFCI trips, stop using the heater and have it checked, even it if seems to be working properly.
  • Have a broken heater checked and repaired by a qualified appliance service center. This is not a job for a do-it-yourself-er.

Wood-burning stoves and heaters

  • Follow all building codes and manufacturer’s instructions during installation.
  • Place all stoves on an approved floor protector or fire resistant floor.
  • Burn only seasoned hardwood - not trash, cardboard boxes, or Christmas trees because these items burn unevenly, may contain toxins, and increase the risk of uncontrolled fires.
  • Have a professional chimney sweep inspect chimneys annually for cracks, blockages and leaks and have them cleaned and repaired as needed. Check chimney and stove pipes frequently during the heating season for creosote build-up, especially if your firewood is at all on the green side.
  • Keep all persons, pets and flammable objects, including kindling, bedding, clothing, at least three feet away from fireplaces and wood stoves.
  • Open flues before fireplaces are used.
  • Use sturdy screens or doors to keep embers inside fireplaces.
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and inside or near sleeping areas.
  • Keep young children away from working wood stoves and heaters to avoid contact burn injuries.
  • Use a metal container for ash removal.

Kerosene heaters

  • Purchase a unit featuring the Underwriters Laboratory (ul) listing.
  • Choose a model with an automatic safety switch that will shut off the unit if it were tipped over accidentally.
  • Look for special features such as:
    1. An automatic starter that will eliminate the need for matches.
    2. A fuel gauge that ensures you do not dangerously overfill the heater.
    3. A safety grill that can prevent accidental contact burns.
  • Use only crystal-clear k1 kerosene; there is no need to have more than five gallons on hand. Store it in a clearly marked metal container outside of your home in a garage or shed.
  • Always ventilate the room by slightly opening a window when using a kerosene heater.

Other heat sources

If you have another type of alternate heater, such as a pellet stove, be sure to operate it according to the manufacturer's recommendations, and in accordance with all local and state installation requirements. In other words, read the manual.

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En cas d’urgence, vous aurez besoin d’eau pour boire, cuisiner et vous laver. Prévoyez d’avoir à disposition au moins un gallon par personne et par jour.

Ne rationner jamais l’eau. Buvez l’eau dont vous avez besoin aujourd’hui et essayez d’en trouver plus pour demain. Vous pouvez réduire la quantité d’eau dont votre corps a besoin en réduisant le nombre de vos activités et en restant dans un endroit frais.

Pour conserver l’eau

  • Utilisez des récipients en plastique, en verre, en fibre de verre ou en métal recouverts d’mail soigneusement lavés.
  • Assurez-vous que les récipients que vous voulez utiliser sont faits pour recevoir des aliments, par exemple les bouteilles de soda de 2 litres avec un bouchon qui reste bien vissé. Les bouteilles de lait ne sont pas recommandées pour y garder de l’eau potable car elles ne ferment pas assez bien.
  • N’utilisez jamais un récipient qui a contenu des produits toxiques.
  • Bouchez fermement les récipients, étiquetez-les et placez-les dans un endroit frais, à l’abri de la lumière.
  • Changez l’eau tous les six mois. Un bon moyen de le faire est de garder une bouteille dans votre réfrigérateur pour avoir de l’eau fraîche à boire. Lorsqu’elle est vide, remplissez-la et mettez-la derrière les autres ; prenez la bouteille suivante et placez-la au réfrigérateur. (Si vous avez acheté de l’eau dans des bouteilles scellées, vous pouvez les garder pendant un an ou selon les recommandations d’utilisation du fabricant).

Sources extérieures d’eau en cas d’urgence

Il est toujours préférable d’obtenir de l’eau potable d’une source dont vous connaissez la pureté (ressources publiques d’approvisionnement en eau, eau en bouteille). Cependant, si en cas d’urgence vous avez besoin de vous procurer de l’eau à l’extérieur de votre maison auprès d’une de ses sources, assurez-vous de purifier l’eau avant de la boire. Il est important de purifier une eau dont la qualité est inconnue. De l’eau qui est claire peut être contaminée.

  • Eau de pluie
  • Ruisseaux, rivières et autres masses d’eau mouvantes
  • Etangs et lacs
  • Sources naturelles

Evitez les eaux dans lesquelles flottent des particules, les eaux qui ont une odeur ou une couleur foncée. N’utilisez l’eau de mer que si vous la distillez d’abord (voir ci-dessous). Ne buvez jamais les eaux d’inondation.

Si vous avez un puits qui a été submergé, l’eau doit être testée et désinfectée une fois le niveau de l’eau redescendu. N’essayez pas de désinfecter un puits qui est encore sous l’eau. Un gallon de javel ménagère est nécessaire pour un puits de six pouces de large et 300 pieds de profondeur. Si vous pensez que votre puits est contaminé, contactez le Maine Drinking Water Program ouvert 24h/24 au 557.4214.

Trois Façons de Purifier L’eau

Vous devez purifier toute eau dont la pureté est incertaine avant de l’utiliser pour boire, cuisiner ou vous laver.

Il y a plusieurs façons de purifier l’eau. Aucune n’est parfaite. Le mélange de plusieurs méthodes est souvent la meilleure solution. Avant de purifier :

Laissez toute particule en suspension retomber au fond ou passez l’eau à travers plusieurs épaisseurs de serviettes en papier ou un linge propre.

Faire bouillir :

Faire bouillir l’eau est la méthode la plus sûre de purification.

  • Amenez l’eau à ébullition et laissez bouillir pendant 3 à 5 minutes.
  • Laissez l’eau refroidir avant de la boire.
  • Pour améliorer le goût de l’eau transvasez-la en alternance entre deux récipients propres. (Cela améliorera aussi le goût de l’eau stockée).

Désinfection :

  • Utilisez seulement de la javel liquide ménagère qui contient 5,25 pour cent d’hypochlorite de sodium.
  • N’utilisez pas de javel parfumée, non-décolorante ou avec des agents nettoyants ajoutés.
  • Ajoutez 10 à 15 gouttes de javel par litre d’eau claire, mélangez et laissez agir pendant 30 minutes.
  • Si l’eau n’a pas une légère odeur de javel, rajouter la même dose et laissez agir pendant encore 15 minutes.


La distillation va éliminer les microbes restants après avoir désinfecté ou fait bouillir l’eau; elle va également éliminer les métaux lourds, les sels et la plupart des autres produits chimiques.

  • Remplissez à moitié une casserole avec de l’eau.
  • Attachez par les anses une tasse au couvercle de la casserole de façon à ce que la tasse soit à l’endroit lorsque le couvercle est à l’envers (assurez-vous que la tasse ne touche pas l’eau).
  • Faites bouillir l’eau pendant 20 minutes.

L’eau qui goutte du couvercle dans la tasse est distillée.

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Frozen water pipes aren't life threatening, however frozen or broken water pipes do cause damage to homes each winter. If pipes in the walls aren't properly insulated, they can freeze and rupture. (An 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day, soaking floors, rugs, and furniture.) To prevent the mess and aggravation frozen pipes cause, protect your home or apartment by following the simple steps below.

Before Cold Weather

  • Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic. Use insulation made especially for this purpose.
  • Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL-approved).
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

When It's Cold

  • Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.

  • Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to uninsulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.

  • Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees F.

  • If you plan to be away: (1) Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or (2) drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

If Pipes Freeze

  • Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber, and contact your insurance agent. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
  • Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

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Faites bouillir l’eau

Si vous pensez que votre eau potable est contaminée, vous devez trouver une façon de vous procurer de l’eau propre pour boire, cuisiner et préparer les aliments. Vous pouvez vous procurer de l’eau chez un voisin dont vous savez que le puits n’est pas contaminé, chez un fournisseur d’eau de votre localité ou acheter de l’eau en bouteille. S’il est difficile de vous approvisionner en eau potable, vous pouvez faire bouillir l’eau de votre puits pendant cinq minutes avant de la consommer.

Si vous avez des questions concernant votre puits ou la qualité de l’eau, veuillez appeler le Drinking Water Program au (207) 287-2070 pendant les heures d’ouverture. Pour les appels urgents après les heures d’ouverture, appelez le (207) 557-4214. Suivez la procédure qui suit pour désinfecter votre puits.

Désinfecter un puits

  1. Une fois l’eau redescendue sous le niveau de la couvertute du puits, enlever cette dernière. Versez dans le puits la quantité de javel (Clorox, Dazzle, ou autre javel approuvée par EPA/NSF) indiquée dans le tableau ci-dessous.
  2. Remettez en place la couverture du puits.
  3. Ouvrez tous les robinets un par un, ceux de l’extérieur et les autres jusqu’à ce que vous sentiez l’odeur de javel sortir de chacun d’eux.
  4. Laissez le mélange agir dans le système toute la nuit; éliminer ensuite le mélange de javel du système en utilisant un robinet extérieur et un tuyau d’arrosage. NE VOUS DEBARRASSEZ PAS DU MELANGE DANS VOTRE FOSSE SEPTIQUE. Vous pouvez de nouveau vous servir des toilettes puisque la fosse septique est prévue pour fonctionner dans une telle situation mais celle-ci ne peut pas supporter la grande quantité d’eau nécessaire pour éliminer la javel du puits. Etant donné que la javel tue l’herbe, faites attention à l’endroit où vous ferez couler l’eau.
  5. Après la désinfection, un échantillon d’eau devra ê:tre prélevé et testé pour contrôler la quantité des bactéries coliformes. Des kits de prélèvements sont disponibles auprès de laboratoires privés et d’état. Cherchez dans les pages jaunes pour trouver le laboratoire le plus près de chez vous. Les prélèvements doivent être effectués seulement après que l’odeur de javel ait disparue. Il faut environ 3 ou 4 jours d’utilisation normale de l’eau avant que l’odeur de javel ne disparaisse complètement.
Puits Foré
(A NOTER : Selon le degré de contamination, une quantité plus importante de javel peut être nécessaire pour désinfecter l’eau)
Depth Dosage
50 pieds 2 1/2 tasses
100 pieds 1 1/2 litres
150 pieds 2 litres
200 pieds 2 1/2 litres
250 pieds 3 litres
300 pieds 3 1/2 litres


Puits Creusé
(Quantité approximative d’eau au fond d’un puits et non pas hauteur totale du puits. Pour une SOURCE superficielle, utilisez 2 gallons)
Depth Dosage (Gal)
5 pieds 1/2 gallon
10 pieds 1 gallon
15 pieds 1 1/2 gallons
20 pieds 2 gallons


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Tornadoes, hail, strong winds, flooding...the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing warnings for many types of severe weather. NWS has many tools to help them anticipate and warn for these hazards. However, ground truth reports of actual weather events always have, and always will, depend on reports from human observers.

That is where the National Weather Service Storm Reporting comes in.

For the Gray forecast area you can call 207-688-3216 or visit

NWS Gray Facebook page

If you are interested in becoming a trained Skywarn spotter, contact the National Weather Service Forecast Office nearest you. Links to the Gray and Caribou Forecast Offices are listed below. Skywarn spotters receive special training, and agree to provide local weather data to the NWS on a regular basis.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a trained Skywarn spotter, please use the instructions given to you at your training session.

When should you report?

When it is safe to do so, if you observe any of the following:

  • Tornado or funnel cloud
  • Strong winds (55-60 MPH or greater) or wind damage (structural damage or trees/power lines down)
  • Hail the size of pennies (3/4 inch diameter) or larger
  • Stream flooding, street flooding, or streams approaching bankfull
  • Snowfall of 3 inches or more

Remember, first ensure that you are safe.

So next time the weather is really nasty, don't just talk about the weather, do something about it! Give the National Weather Service a report and let them know what's happening in your area.

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After an emergency, if you have had to leave your home or your home was damaged in any way, it is important to document all of the costs you have had.

Your first contact should be your insurance agent. Keep complete records of losses and disaster-related expenses. These will help you in filing your claim. If additional aid is available, or if you are not insured, these records will also help you in applying for State or federal aid that may become available and for allowable income tax deductions. Most disaster losses are also deductible for income tax purposes.

Always take pictures of any damages. Photographs of damaged homes or objects are excellent evidence of the impact on your home or possessions.

Include records on the following:

  • All actual losses, including furniture, clothes, paintings, artifacts, food, and equipment, even if you don't intend to replace them;
  • All disaster-related expenses. This includes the additional cost of living, if any, for your family and you, such as motel and restaurant bills, temporary rental of cars or home rental;
  • Clean-up expenses, rented equipment, and depreciation of equipment purchases;
  • Restoration expenses, including all labor and material purchased and other costs to return your home to its prior condition.
  • After completing your list of losses, have two or three of your neighbors sign the list as witnesses. Make sure they inspect all damaged material, so they can vouch for the list's accuracy.
  • Try to document the value of each object lost. Include bills of sale, cancelled checks, charge account records or prior insurance evaluations. If you don't have these, estimate the value, purchase place, and date of purchase. Include this information with your list.
  • After the clean up, make an inventory of your household and document it with pictures or receipts. Keep it in a safe deposit box or in another safe place away from the area.

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Even when a traumatic event happens in another part of the country or another part of the world, it may have an impact on all of us.

Of course, if you are in the area where the event has happened, the effects will be even greater. It is also important to understand that people in the health care and human services fields may be affected by common stress reactions. Watch for these reactions in yourself and your family. Then take the time to take care of each other.

Common stress reactions can be emotional (feelings), cognitive (thinking process), behavioral (actions) and physical (overall health). Some examples are anxiety, fear, depression, confusion, poor concentration, a change in sleeping or eating patterns, headaches, fatigue, stomach distress, and a decreased resistance to infection. All of these and others are normal responses to abnormal and traumatic events.

Take care of yourself

  • Make sure you are eating well, drinking lots of fluids and getting enough sleep.
  • Exercise and relaxation exercises are highly encouraged.
  • Stay connected with your friends and family.

Take care of your children

The two most common indicators of distress in children are changes in their behavior and behavior regression.

  • Talk with your children about their feelings and share information that they can understand.
  • Reassure your child that you are safe and together.
  • Try to spend extra time together in fun family activities.
  • Limiting media exposure for children is a good idea.

If you feel the need to have additional professional support and counseling, talk with your family physician or a counselor.

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How quickly your company can get back to business after a terrorist attack or hurricane, a fire or flood or pandemic flu depends on emergency planning you do today.

Maine’s businesses form the backbone of the state’s economy; small businesses alone account for a majority of the economy. If businesses are prepared to survive and recover, the State and our economy are more secure.

As a business owner, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What could happen to us?
  • Am I prepared to relocate temporarily?
  • What would happen if my suppliers shut down?
  • Do my employees know what to do in case of an emergency?
  • How can I help my community recover more quickly?

A commitment to preparing today will help support employees, customers, the community, the local economy and even the country. It also protects your business investment and gives your company a better chance for survival.

Get started with emergency planning for your business:

  • Learn what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally. Find out which disasters are possible and most common in the areas where you operate. You may be aware of some of your community's risks; others may surprise you.
  • Think about how a disaster would affect your suppliers and customers. A disaster somewhere else can effect your business if you can't get supplies, or can't ship your products.
  • Meet with your insurance agent. Do you need flood insurance at your location? Normal business insurance does not cover flooding. Should business interruption insurance be a consideration?
  • Develop internal safety plans; evacuation, fire prevention, etc. Appoint a safety coordinator who will check fire extinguishers and arrange for practice and drills
  • Protect and back up your vital records, both the paper ones and electronic data
  • Make emergency preparedness a priority with you and your employees and your families. If you and your employees know that your families are safe, you can focus on getting the business back on its feet. Materials available from this Maine Prepares site can help you get started.
  • Make a communications plan. How will you communicate with your employees, customers and suppliers, especially if you are closed down for a while?
  • Make a plan for recovery, for getting back in business. Depending on your type of business, this could be an alternate location, emergency power, or other solutions.
  • Invest in improvements that will make your buildings and equipment less likely to be damaged.

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The Maine State Fire Marshal has some tips for camping fire safety. When planning or actually camping remember to:

  • Always use a flame retardant tent and set up camp far away from the campfire
  • Always use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns inside the tent or any other closed space, not liquid filled heaters or lanterns.
  • Always build your campfire down wind away from your tent. Clear all vegetation and dig a pit surrounded by rocks before building your campfire
  • Store liquid fire starter (not gasoline) away from your tent and campfire and only use dry kindling to freshen a campfire

Finally, remember to put out a campfire when going to sleep or leaving the campsite. To make sure you extinguish the fire cover with dirt or pour water over it.

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Is your school prepared for all emergencies?

Traditionally schools develop a crisis communications plan to respond to internal issues. Not many schools develop an emergency plan detailing specific hazards that may exist locally, nor do they include those individuals that may be responsible within the community for assisting the school. In many cases, teachers are not aware of the school's emergency plans.

A commitment to preparing today will help support employees, students and your community. It also protects your community’s financial investment and gives your school a better chance for survival through any emergency.

How to prepare your school:

  1. Know what kinds of emergencies might affect your school both internally and externally. Find out which natural disasters are most common in the areas where you are located. You may be aware of some of your community's risks; others may surprise you. Work with your County EMA.
  2. Learn about what to do during a specific disaster or event.
  3. Develop a School Emergency Plan. The resources linked below offer excellent guidance.
  4. Educate your teachers; make sure they are prepared as individuals. This will make them better prepared employees.

MEMA and the Department of Education have developed a library of resources to get you started.

Further questions? Contact your County Emergency Management Agency, or reach out to us at MEMA.

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Is your school prepared for all emergencies?

Here are some resources to get started:

In addition, here are some publications from MEMA, the Maine Department of Education and school administrators:

Other Resources

.PDF files can be read using the free Adobe® Reader, available at

.DOC files can be read using Microsoft Word® or Word® Viewer, available at
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/ Should you need an alternate form of any document, please contact us.

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The Maine State Fire Marshal has tips for summer Barbecue safety. Though we all love a good barbecue we need to be careful. The latest statistics from NFPA reflects that in 2007-2011, gas and charcoal grills caused an average of 3,800 structure fires and 5,000 outdoor fires in or on home properties, resulting in an average of 140 injuries and a direct property loss of $96 million.

When using barbecue grills on decks or patios, be sure to:

  • leave sufficient space from siding and eaves
  • always watch the grill when in use
  • keep children and pets far away from grills

With charcoal grills:

  • only use charcoal starter fluids designed for barbecue grills
  • do not add fluid after coals have been lit

With gas grills:

  • be sure that the hose connection is tight
  • check hoses carfully for leaks. Applying soapy water to the hoses will easily and safely reveal any leaks

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and have the grill repaired by a professional, if necessary. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that before purchasing a grill or container, that it bares the mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

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Do you have pets or livestock? Being prepared for a flood, winter storm, forest fire, hurricane, earthquake, hazardous material leak or dam failure notification is the best gift you can give them.

Think about what it would take to get through a disaster.

A plan should be made for all situations.

Evacuation or Shelter?

Plan ahead for possible evacuations

  • Call motels to see what the policy is for pets
  • Contact local authorities about shelters for pets and/or livestock
  • Contact friends and family outside your area about housing your animals
  • Make arrangements with family or friends to take care of your animals if you happen to be away
  • Post your evacuation plans near the door

If you need to evacuate

  • Always evacuate if advised to do so
  • Evacuate your pets and/or livestock too according to your plan

If you need to go to a shelter

  • Keep in mind that shelters may require proof of immunizations before they will accept animals
  • Shelters may require proof of ownership (when you return to get the animal). Take a picture of yourself with your pet and put the picture with your important papers.
  • Obtain ID tags for all pets, and/or have them micro-chipped for identifications. Most vets or anmial shelters can do this for a small fee.
  • Make arrangements with family or friends to take care of your animals if you happen to be away
  • Keep a list with names and phone numbers, including your veterinarian, by the door

“Shelter in Place” (keeping the animals safe on site if the emergency doesn’t require evacuation.

  • Do you need a generator?
  • Do you have a way to store fuel?
  • Do you need extra blankets?


Food and water are essential to survival. Always have enough food, water and supplies for at least 72 Hours (three days).

  • Do you have extra grain or hay?
  • Do you have extra pet food?
  • Is there a place where you can haul and store water?


Other items to consider for your livestock or pets are necessary medications. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on this issue and plan accordingly. Medications and medical records should be stored in a weather proof container.

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This table of frozen food safety shows how to determine if food is safe to eat after a power outage that affects your freezer.

Frozen Foods
Food Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated Held above 40°F for more than 2 hours
Meat, Poultry, Seafood
Beef, veal, lamb, pork and ground meats Refreeze Discard
Poultry and ground poultry Refreeze Discard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings) Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews, soups Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor loss. Discard
Milk Refreeze. May lose some texture. Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard (poor quality) Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) Refreeze. May lose texture Discard
Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Refreeze Discard
Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheese Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard
Juices Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze. Will change in texture and flavor. Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.
Juices Refreeze Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours.
Home or commercially packaged or blanched Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss. Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours
Breads, Pastries
Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling Refreeze Discard
Pie crusts Refreeze Refreeze
Commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze. Some quality loss may occur. Refreeze. Considerable quality loss.
Casseroles: pasta, rice-based Refreeze Discard
Breakfast items—waffles, pancakes, bagels Refreeze Refreeze
Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods) Refreeze Discard

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This table helps you determine when to save refrigerated food, and when to throw it out after a power outage that affects your refrigerator.

Discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. If food has been kept above 40 °F for more than 2 hours, use this chart to decide when you need to throw something out.

REFRIGERATED FOOD: When to save, when to throw it out
Food If food has been kept above 40°F for more than 2 hours
Dairy Products
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt Discard
Butter, margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Discard
Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products Discard
Custards and puddings Discard
Soft cheeses: blue (bleu or imported), brie, camembert, Colby, cottage, cream, edam, jack, mozzarella, muenster, Neufchatel, ricotta, Roquefort Discard
Hard cheeses: cheddar, parmesan, provolone, Romano, Swiss Safe
Processed cheeses (American) Safe
Shredded cheeses Discard
Low-fat cheeses Discard
Commercial grated hard cheese purchased in a can or jar (Parmesan, Romano or combination) Safe
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe
Fresh cut-up fruits Discard
Fresh mushrooms, herbs and spices Safe
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato salad Discard
Casseroles, Soups and Stews Discard
Meat, Poultry, Seafood
Fresh or leftover meat, poultry, fish or seafood Discard
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing Discard
Lunchmeats, hotdogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Discard
Pizza—any topping Discard
Canned meats (NOT labeled "Keep Refrigerated"), but refrigerated after opening Discard
Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated" Discard
Pies, Pastry
Pastries, cream-filled Discard
Pies, custard, cheese-filled or chiffon Discard
Pies, fruit Safe
Bread, Cakes, Cookies, Pasta
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads Safe
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, spaghetti Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinegar base Discard
Fresh pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods: waffles, pancakes, bagels Safe
Sauces, Spreads, Jams
Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Discard if above 50°F for over 8 hours.
Peanut butter, jelly, relish, taco and BBQ sauce, mustard, catsup, olives Safe
White wine, Worcestershire sauce Discard
Fish sauces (oyster sauce) Discard
Hoisin sauce Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Safe
Deli-prepared foods: salads, coleslaw, cooked meats or poultry, luncheon meats Discard

This information is courtesy of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Visit them online at: http://www.extension.umaine.edu/

Retail Foodservice establishments are directed to visit the Health Inspection Program website for emergency guidance: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/el/

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Sooner or later, every family faces a food emergency. It may be a flood, hurricane, tornado—or something less devastating, such as a power outage or the freezer discovered with its door open.

Natural disasters can create food safety and supply problems that require food safety know-how.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer at all times to see if food is being stored at safe temperatures (40 degrees F for the refrigerator; 0 degrees F for the freezer. Most food borne illness is caused by bacteria that multiply rapidly at temperatures above 40 degrees F.
  • Leave the freezer door closed. A full freezer should keep food safe about two days; a half-full freezer, about one day. Add bags of ice or dry ice to the freezer if it appears the power will be off for an extended time. You can safely refreeze thawed foods that still contain ice crystals or feel cold and solid to the touch.
  • Refrigerated items should be safe as long as the power is out no more than about four to six hours. Discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Leave the refrigerator door closed; every time you open it, cold air escapes, causing the foods inside to reach unsafe temperatures. If it appears the power will be off more than six hours, transfer refrigerated perishable foods to an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Keep a thermometer in the cooler to be sure the food stays at 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste food to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been at room temperature longer than two hours, bacteria can multiply very rapidly. Some types will produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking and could make you sick.

For more information about food safety during a power outage or disaster, call the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This information courtesy of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension:

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Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness caused by a bacterium. Lyme disease is spread by the bite of a deer tick that already has the germ.

For the medical facts about Lyme Disease, we refer you to the MaineCDC's online library of information at:


According to the MaineCDC, limiting exposure to ticks reduces the likelihood of any tick-born disease infection, including Lyme Disease. In persons exposed to tick-infested habitats, prompt careful inspection and removal of crawling or attached ticks is an important method of preventing disease. It may take several hours of attachment before microorganisms are transmitted from the tick to the host, so preventing ticks from attaching and removing any ticks promptly are important safety steps.

Important tips for Lyme Disease prevention:

  • Wear light-colored clothing -- this will allow you to see ticks that are crawling on your clothing
  • Tuck your pants legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pants legs.
  • Apply repellants to discourage tick attachment. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on boots and clothing, and will last for several days. Repellents containing DEET ( n, n-diethyl- m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, but will last only a few hours before reapplication is necessary. Use DEET with caution on children because adverse reactions have been reported.
  • Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Remove any tick you find on your body.
  • Don't forget your pets! Lyme disease can affect them too. Check your dogs and cats regularly for ticks, and remove them promptly. Talk with your veterinarian about flea and tick prevention, and vaccination for Lyme disease.

Please visit the MaineCDC Lyme Disease Resource Center for medical information, and more information on prevention.

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Excerpted from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control.

I heard about "toxic molds" that grow in homes and other buildings. Should I be concerned about a serious health risk to me and my family?

Certain molds can produce toxins. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as breathing concerns or memory loss. These case reports are rare. A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination existing inside buildings and homes. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. For the most part, one should take routine measures to prevent mold growth in the home.

How common is mold, in buildings?

Molds are very common in buildings and homes and will grow anywhere indoors where there is moisture. The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria.

How do molds get in the indoor environment and how do they grow?

Mold spores occur in the indoor and outdoor environments. Mold spores may enter your house from the outside through open doorways, windows, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems with outdoor air intakes. Mold spores in the air outside also attach themselves to people, animals, clothing, shoes, bags, and pets that may carry mold indoors.

When mold spores drop on places where there is a lot of moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building materials encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.

Is it important to know what kind of mold I have?

NO - It is not necessary to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.

Are there any times where people should leave a home or other building because of mold?

These decisions have to be made individually. If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in a building, you should consult your physician to determine the appropriate action to take.

Who are the people who are most at risk for health problems associated with exposure to mold?

People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections.

How do you know if you have a mold problem.

Large amounts of mold can usually be seen or smelled.

What are the possible health effects of mold in buildings and homes?

Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors; however, some people are sensitive to molds. These people may experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, sneezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds. Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. People with weakened immune systems and chronic lung diseases are at increased risk and may develop fungal infections in their lungs.

How do you get the mold out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?

Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using bleach or other cleaning products.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
  • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediations in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. you can get it free by calling the EPA Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse at (800) 438-4318, or by going to the EPA web site.

How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?

As part of routine building maintenance, buildings should be inspected for evidence of water damage and visible mold. The conditions causing mold (such as water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) should be corrected to prevent mold from growing.

Mold Prevention Tips

  • Keep the humidity level in your home between 40% and 60%. Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces, like basements.

  • Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
  • Fix any leaks in your home's roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
  • Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24-48 hours) after flooding.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.
  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
  • Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.

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    Tree Chipper Safety

    • Maintain a safe distance between the chipper and other work or workers
    • Be sure wheels of portable chippers are chocked so they cannot move while chipping
    • Use ear plugs, safety glasses, hard hats and gloves.
    • Never reach into a chipper while it is operating!
    • Do not wear loose-fitting clothes around a chipper.

    Tree Trimming and Removal:

    • Work within 10 feet of power lines must be done by trained professionals.
    • Do not attempt to trim or remove trees near power lines yourself!
    • Do not attempt to trim or remove trees in dangerous weather conditions
    • Determine the direction trees or limbs will fall before you start removing them.
    • Be especially careful around bent, twisted or leaning trees.
    • Be extra cautious around trees hung up in other trees.
    • Always wear personal protective equipment.
    • Never turn your back on a falling tree – it may kick, snap or bounce in unexpected ways.
    • Be alert for objects falling from or thrown back by a tree as it falls.
    • Identify a retreat path to a safe location before starting trimming or removal of any kind.

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    Holiday weekends are wonderful occasions to get together with family, relax, and reconnect with friends. Safe travel, safe cooking and safe eating will ensure a Thanksgiving that's memorable for all the right reasons!

    Safe Travels

    If you're traveling by car Thanksgiving weekend, take these tips from the Maine State Police:

    • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter weather with winter tread tires, updated windshield wipers, and that the heater, defroster, lighting and battery are in good working order.
    • Equip your vehicle with a blanket, shovel, booster cables, flares and a bucket of sand or salt for winter emergencies.
    • If you need emergency help on the road, call 911 on your cellular phone to be connected to the nearest State Police communications center
    • And finally, if you're driving:
      • Be well rested
      • Avoid drinking and driving, and
      • Expect some delays during the weekend.

    Safe Eating!

    The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the USDA offer reminders on food safety:

    • Thaw a frozen turkey in the regrigerator, using cold water, or a microwave. Never thaw the turkey on the counter at room temperature. Thawing takes place from the outside in. At room temperature this allows the bacteria on the surface of the bird to grow during the thawing process.
    • Whenever possible, avoid buying a stuffed turkey. Buy the bird and stuff it yourself, right before cooking.

    For more information about turkey safety, call USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555 or visit the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Turkey Page (link is below).

    Safe Cooking

    According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of home fires on Thanksgiving Day. Cooking fires nearly double on Thanksgiving Day, occurring more than twice as often as on another day.

    The American Red Cross offers some tips for safe cooking on Thanksgiving. Here are the top five:

    • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
    • If you are simmering, baking, boiling, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
    • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
    • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet around the stove.
    • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.

    For more tips on keeping Thanksgiving a joyous occasion, see the links below.

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    The Maine Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health and Industry, recommends developing a First Aid Kit for your livestock, so that you can be ready to deal with any farm emergency.

    Be sure to store these items in a waterproof, mouseproof bin:

    • Gauze sponges
    • Cotton bandage rolls
    • Triple antibiotic ointment
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Ace self-adhering athletic bandage
    • White petroleum jelly (Bag balm)
    • Eye wash
    • Cotton tipped swabs
    • Betadine or Nolvasan (scrub and solution)
    • Sterile, non-adherent pads
    • Vet Wrap bandages
    • Latex gloves
    • Non-allergenic gloves
    • Bandage cloth tape
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Bandage scissors
    • Splints
    • Saline solution (for rinsing wounds)
    • Sterile water-based lubricant
    • Blankets (of various sizes)
    • Towels and washcloths
    • Tweezers
    • Hemostats
    • Large animal rectal thermometer
    • Ziplock-type bags
    • Penicillin
    • Needles / syringes
    • Animal aspirin
    • Rope
    • Nose twitch
    • Veterinary contact information
    • Health information if available
    • Collars / halters / leads
    • Wound spray
    • Powdered gelatin (stops bleeding)

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    The Small Business Administration says that 1 out of 4 businesses doesn't reopen after a major disaster. We can't afford that in Maine. Here’s a list of tasks – some will cost you nothing – which will leave you more prepared to deal with an emergency or disaster.


    • Learn what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally.
    • Meet with your local emergency management director or fire chief to learn about community disaster plans, and inform response organizations about yours. Talk about how your business might be able to assist in the community in a major disaster.
    • Meet with your insurance provider to review current coverage. Talk about what improvements to buildings and systems might actually lower your insurance costs.
    • Create procedures to quickly evacuate and shelter-in-place (stay where you are safely). Practice the plans.
    • Talk to your staff about the company’s disaster plans. Two-way communication is central before, during and after a disaster.
    • Create an emergency contact list, including employee emergency contact information.
    • Create a list of critical business contractors and others whom you will use in an emergency.
    • Decide in advance what you will do if your building is unusable.
    • Create a list of inventory and equipment, including computer hardware, software and peripherals, for insurance purposes.
    • Talk to utility service providers about potential alternatives and identify back-up options.
    • Promote family and individual preparedness among your co-workers. Include emergency preparedness information during staff meetings, in newsletters, on company intranet, periodic employee emails and other internal communications tools.

    Under $500

    • Buy a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm.
    • Decide which emergency supplies the company can feasibly provide, if any, and talk to your co-workers about what supplies individuals might want to consider keeping in a personal and portable supply kit.
    • Set up a telephone call tree, password-protected page on the company website, an email alert or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employees in an emergency.
    • Provide first aid and CPR training to key co-workers.
    • Use and keep up-to-date computer anti-virus software and firewalls.
    • Attach equipment and cabinets to walls or other stable equipment. Place heavy or breakable objects on low shelves.
    • Elevate valuable inventory and electric machinery off the floor in case of flooding.
    • If applicable, make sure your building’s HVAC system is working properly and well-maintained.
    • Back up your records and critical data. Keep a copy offsite.

    More than $500

    • Make business or systems improvements recommended by your insurance agent.
    • Consider additional insurance such as business interruption, flood or earthquake.
    • Purchase, install and pre-wire a generator to the building’s essential electrical circuits. Provide for other utility alternatives and back-up options.
    • Install automatic sprinkler systems, fire hoses and fire-resistant doors and walls.
    • Make sure your building meets standards and codes. Consider a professional engineer to evaluate the wind, fire or seismic resistance of your building.
    • Consider a security professional to evaluate and/or create your disaster preparedness and business continuity plan.
    • Upgrade your building’s HVAC system to secure outdoor air intakes and increase filter efficiency.
    • Send safety and key emergency response employees to trainings or conferences.
    • Provide a larger group of employees with first aid and CPR training.
    • Consider a program that will allow employees paid leave to volunteer in a community emergency


    • Knowing that your business will weather the storm.

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    Your community leaders are hard at work planning for emergencies. This summary will give you an idea about what they are working on, and some of the issues they are addressing.

    Much more information is available at the Maine Emergency Management Agency ‘EMA Community’ website and from your County Emergency Management Director.

    Your community might be anywhere in this process. Through it all, there is plenty of opportunity to get involved. Contact your County Emergency Management Director if you are interested in participating in the planning effort.

    First, your municipal Emergency Management Director needed to rally support. There are many people involved in the emergency planning process.

    • Chief Executive
    • Emergency Services (police, fire, public works, etc.)
    • Social Services
    • Volunteer Agencies
    • Education representatives
    • Business representatives
    • Community members
    • and others!

    To start -- They started by assuring support of elected officials. If the leaders lead, the rest will follow.

    Do research -- They consider the laws and ordinances governing emergency planning. Built an understanding of any existing plans, your community's hazards, risks and vulnerabilities, and considered your geography and demography.

    A Meeting -- They considered potential hazards and risks. What could happen in your community? What has happened? How likely is it to happen? Would there be loss of property or life?

    What do they do? -- To best respond, they needed to evaluate their operations in an emergency. It was critical for them to answer the following questions…

    • Who is in charge? Where will they operate from? How will they communicate?
    • How will they warn the public?
    • How will they give ongoing information to the public?
    • How will they evacuate? Where will they shelter citizens?
    • How will the emergency services operate and cooperate?
    • How can they reduce our risk?

    Can they handle it? -- It is important to consider the people (and the skills and training required); the facilities (for an operations center, shelters); the plans and procedures (operations plans, laws and ordinances); and the supplies (shelter kits, message forms, money).

    What if they can’t do it? -- They developed (and may continue to develop) mutual aid agreements with other communities. They are recruiting and training volunteers in Community Emergency Response Teams. They solicited support from the business community.

    Hazard-specific planning -- Remember those potential hazards? They considered each of them, and investigated how they would respond to each one. What will they need to do differently? How much notice will they have of the disaster?

    Test it -- They will work with a County Emergency Management Director to test their new operations plan. This could be a tabletop exercise, or a full scale, live-action exercise, or a combination.

    Evaluate it -- After an exercise (or a real disaster), they will evaluate the plan. What happened? Did the plan operate as intended? What could be improved?

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    Did you know that homeowner’s or business insurance policies do not cover flood damage?

    Flooding can happen anytime, anywhere. Floods happen throughout Maine – even in places away from the coast and rivers. In recent years, about 25% of national flood insurance claims came from places not considered high risk for flooding.

    Where does flood insurance come from? The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created by Congress in response to the rising cost of disaster relief for flood victims. It is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Why do you need flood insurance? You cannot count on your homeowner’s insurance after a flood, and you cannot count on government assistance when it comes to rebuilding, either. Federal money is not often made available after floods – and when it is, it will only make your house safe and clean. It will not restore your life, or replace your property. In addition, grants are usually made only to those without insurance, and loans are available but must be repaid… with interest. Flood insurance makes sense! The average payment for a $50,000 disaster home loan is $311 a month. The average premium for national flood insurance is $650 a year

    Flood Insurance does not have to be expensive! Depending on where you live, and the level of coverage – it could cost about $1 a day.

    How much coverage is available? Up to $250,000 of building coverage and $100,000 of contents coverage are available to protect your home and its contents. Policies are available for renters and business owners, also.

    How do I sign up? To buy a National Flood Insurance policy, call your insurance agent or contact one of the private insurance companies that write flood insurance under a special arrangement with the Federal government. Call the National Flood Insurance Program’s toll-free number to obtain the name of an agent in your area who does write flood insurance. The number is 1-888-RAIN-924.

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    According to the Associated Press, nearly 8 million children in the United States age 4 or younger either attend a day-care center or have home-based care givers. If your child is in child care, find out about and help improve emergency plans.

    Child care at a day care facility:

    • Learn about the emergency plans at the day care center, including evacuation sites, and how parents will be notified.
    • Keep your contact information up to date. Provide at least two ways to be contacted, including a relative or friend out of the area.
    • If your child is on medication, provide an extra supply in case an emergency delays your child returning home
    • Ask your provider if he or she has used the YIKES emergency planning guide provided by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to prepare an emergency plan. Provide a copy if not, and follow up on the development of an emergency plan for the facility.
    • Make plans with your provider for emergencies that might prevent your picking up your child on time.

    Child care in your home (baby sitters and nannies):

    • Make sure your baby sitter is aware of your family emergency plan, including evacuation plans, meeting places and emergency communications.
    • Make sure you have emergency contact information for your sitter's family.
    • Practice your evacuation plans with your sitter, including the location of items such as your Go-Bag or important information and documents that should be taken along.
    • Make plans with your sitter for emergencies that might prevent you for getting home on time.

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    Two out of five businesses that experience a disaster will go out of business within five years. Are you one of those? After an emergency, will your business have the resources to recover?

    The best way to make sure you are covered is to talk with your insurance agent. Here are a few questions to get the discussion started:

    Does my policy cover disasters? -- You’d be surprised. Most policies do not cover floods, and often many natural hazards are excluded. Make sure you are completely covered.

    Tip! Keep copies of all the policies in a safe, waterproof place. Even better, scan them onto your computer and e-mail copies to yourself in a web-based email account. That way, you have access to them from anywhere, anytime.

    What are my deductibles and limitations? -- Your coverage has limits – make sure you understand what they are. Also understand how much of the damage you will be responsible for (the deductible) before insurance kicks in to help.

    Does my insurance cover only repair, or improvement? -- Remember, your business may have been ‘grandfathered’ under code requirements. When you repair after a disaster, you might need to do so ‘to code.’

    How do I file a claim? -- Talk with your insurance agent to understand the process of filing claims. What documentation do you need? Do you need to supply photographs or inventories of equipment?

    Tip! In many cases, you do not need to wait for insurance to pay out to make repairs. With proper documentation, you might be able to repair and get back to business while navigating the claims process. Talk with your insurance agent.

    Is my business covered for loss of income? How long is this coverage available? How much is available? -- Because you still need to pay the bills, some policies provide coverage for the income you lost during a disaster. This money could pay employees and utilities, repair expenses, vendors, or even advertising costs if you move to a new location. Talk with your insurance agent about these policies and how they could help your business recover.

    Do I need flood insurance? -- Most business policies do not cover flood damage. Special coverage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your insurance agent may be able to bind such a policy. If not, call the National Flood Insurance Program’s toll-free number to obtain the name of an agent in your area who does write flood insurance. The number is 1-888-RAIN-924.

    For More Information

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    Built your family disaster supply kit? Written your emergency plan? Now take a look at your community. Is your town fully prepared to endure a severe storm or flooding?

    The National Weather Service has designed StormReady, a program aimed at preparing cities, counties and towns across the nation with the communication and safety tools necessary to save lives and property.

    StormReady helps communities prepare an action plan that responds to the threat of severe weather – from hurricanes, to winter storms. A voluntary program, StormReady provides clear-cut advice to local leaders and the media that would improve their hazardous weather operations.

    To be called ‘StormReady,’ a community must:

    • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
    • Have more than one method of receiving severe weather forecasts and warnings and alerting the public;
    • Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
    • Promote the significance of public readiness through community seminars;
    • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding exercises.

    In exchange for your efforts to make your community more prepared, the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) may provide Community Ratings System (CRS) points to StormReady communities, which may be applied toward lowering your flood insurance rates.

    In Maine there is one StormReady community (Fort Fairfield) and a StormReady University (University of Maine at Presque Isle)!

    To learn more, or to start the StormReady process, visit the website of your nearest National Weather Service Forecast Centers, using the links below.

    For More Information

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    Severe weather is not the only reason to prepare. Maine’s floodplains total 2,772 square miles – that’s an area larger than Rhode Island. 33,000 homes and businesses are at risk, compared to a little over 8,400 with flood insurance policies.

    Floods may come fast, but your community can be prepared with the National Flood Insurance Program and can reduce the cost of insurance premiums by participating in the Community Rating System (CRS).

    CRS is a voluntary incentive program that encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program requirements.

    CRS is a point-based system. To earn points and participate in CRS, a community could do things like:

    • Preserve open space in the floodplain;
    • Enforce higher standards for safer new development;
    • Maintain drainage systems; and
    • Inform people about flood hazards, flood insurance, and how to reduce flood damage.

    In return for your efforts, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions.

    To learn more about the Community Rating System, or to get started, call or visit the Maine Floodplain Management Program.

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    Would you be protected if a flood washed away your house, or if a hurricane destroyed some of your property? How about a house fire?

    Taking a look at your insurance policies (or lack thereof) is an important step in protecting yourself and your family from disasters. Emergencies happen. There is no way to tell when they will hit, or how bad the damage will be. Having insurance in place will help you recover and restore your life – quickly.

    The best way to prepare is to talk with your insurance agent. Ask them these questions:

    What insurance policies do I have? What are their limits and associated deductibles?

    Tip! Keep copies of all the policies in a safe, waterproof place. Even better, scan them onto your computer and e-mail copies to yourself in a web-based email account. That way, you have access to them from anywhere, anytime.

    How is loss calculated by my insurance carrier? -- Do they insure for replacement, or just cash value? Remember that some items in your home may have no cash value (because of age and/or depreciation), so it is important that your policies still provide money to replace these goods. Often, replacement-coverage does increase your premium.

    Tip! Most homeowner's insurance policies require you to report a claim immediately. As soon as you can, call your insurance company. Give them a general description of the damage. Try to get the name of your claim adjuster and a telephone number.

    What is covered? -- Is your car covered? What if a tree falls on it? How about your property when it is outside of your house? Swimming pool?

    Does my insurance cover expenses that might arise during a disaster? -- You and your family may stay in a hotel, need to rent a car, eat meals at restaurants if your home is damaged in a disaster – are those expenses covered?

    Tip! If you do need to relocate during a disaster, keep all of your receipts. Most homeowner's insurance policies will cover these expenses.

    What disasters does my policy exclude coverage for? -- Your insurance may not cover you for hurricanes or other natural hazards. Make sure you are covered. If you are not, ask your agent to expand your policies.

    What about flood or disaster insurance…. do I need these? -- Remember, most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flooding. You need a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program for this.

    Do I need special coverage for my artwork, antique collection, collectibles, or home office? -- The answer is often ‘yes.’

    Tip! Do you know everything you own that might be covered under your insurance? The best way to make sure is to photograph every room, closet and storage area with a digital camera. Back-up these photographs. This way, you have a visual record of what was in your house – and that information could be critical when it comes time to file a claim.

    How long will it take to be paid on a claim? -- You might be surprised. This can take a long time.

    Tip! When your insurance company sends you a claim form, complete and return it as soon as possible. There is often a requirement that they be returned within a certain period of time.

    Lastly, just a note for you. Do not think that the government will always help. -- A disaster must be very serious and affect a large number of people for government aid to be made available. When aid is available, it will only make your house safe and secure – it will not replace your property or fully restore your home. Adequate insurance coverage can do much more.

    Tip! Even if you have insurance, if disaster relief is made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, you should apply for it. If there are gaps in your coverage, FEMA may be able to help.

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    Making local government emergency preparedness and response programs accessible to people with disabilities is a critical piece of a community’s overall emergency planning process.

    This quick-start guide will help make sure everyone in your community is cared for in a disaster.


    Consider the elements of emergency planning, and how those pieces might involve people with disabilities. Issues that have the greatest impact on people with disabilities include: - Notification - Evacuation - Emergency transportation - Sheltering - Access to medications, refrigeration, and back-up power - Access to their mobility devices or service animals while in transit or at shelters - Access to information. Remember the needs of people who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes or crutches, or people who have limited stamina. What about people who use oxygen or respirators? Or people who are blind or are hard of hearing?


    How do you receive emergency messages? Hearing an alert on the radio? Seeing a ‘scroll’ on the television? Seeing police lights?

    How would you receive messages without the ability to hear or see?

    Develop warning methods that ensure all citizens have access to relevant information and are empowered to make their own decisions. Often combining many methods of alerts – both audible and visual – will provide the best outcome.

    Some ideas include text messaging, television captioning, door-to-door contact by police or volunteers, or telephone calls.


    When an evacuation is requested or ordered, remember that some members of your community may need some assistance in complying. Without electricity, elevators may not function. Individuals relying on community transportation programs may need assistance. Some may simply need help in understanding their options and the instructions.

    Assure that your community Emergency Evacuation Plan incorporates plans helping people with disabilities to evacuate. Address accessible transportation needs for people who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility aids as well as people who are blind or who have low vision. This may involve emergency services or volunteers.

    Do you know where those people with disabilities are? Some communities, including Franklin County, have instituted voluntary registries for these people so that, in case of emergency, help can be provided as quickly as possible.


    In an emergency, a temporary shelter may become home for displaced citizens. Surely your community has made arrangements for shelters to be stocked with supplies, but have you considered how accessible the shelter is for people with disabilities? Consider for example an individual using a wheelchair or scooter arriving at the shelter only to find no accessible entrance, accessible toilet, or accessible shelter area.

    Talk with representatives of area disability organizations. Invite them to meet with you and review your emergency planning. Together find issues that need improvement for proper accessibility.

    Invite these groups to tour your shelters. Examine the layout to assure that all needed spaces – restrooms, food areas, sleeping areas - are accessible. If you find barriers, work with the facility to plan for addressing these issues before an emergency arises.

    Remember that some people may have service animals. While some shelters do not allow pets, these service animals are exempted from such rules.

    In addition, some medications may require constant refrigeration – like insulin for diabetics. Make plans for these resources to be available.


    Develop ways to make information available to people who might be deaf or hard of hearing, and for people with speech disabilities. Make sure your staff and volunteers are trained on basic procedures for providing accessible communication, including exchanging notes or posting written announcements to go with spoken announcements.

    Train staff to read printed information, upon request, to persons who are blind or who have low vision.


    When the emergency is over and people may return home, remember that some people might need assistance. Using the same information you discovered during the evacuation process, provide assistance to individuals with disabilities to return to their homes.

    Make sure to consider their individual needs. If an individual with a mobility device needs a ramp into their home, and it was destroyed in a flood – they will need special assistance. Consider temporary housing if individuals cannot return home immediately.

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    The U.S. Department of Labor estimates over 40% of businesses never reopen following a disaster. Of the remaining companies, at least 25% will close within 2 years.

    Is your business or organization ready to ‘weather’ a technology disaster?

    Getting Started on Technology Preparedness

    • What systems do you rely on? -- Consider what is important to your business. Do you need computers to operate your business, or just record keeping?

    • Identify points of potential failure -- Where could your systems fail? Do you have redundancy in place for networking, data storage, or merchant (credit card) processing?

    • Back-up your critical business data. -- It’s not expensive, or complicated. Small businesses with little data could simply burn it onto CD and take it home, or to another off-site storage facility. Larger businesses with more complex needs can consult one of dozens of companies specializing in off-site data storage and back-up.

    • Consider data on laptops -- Do you or your employees transport data on laptop computers? Remember to back-up that material.

    • Back-up Data on a Schedule -- Save your data at least once per week. You never know when a disaster will incapacitate your computer systems.

    • Remember your Documents -- Even though it is on paper, doesn’t mean it cannot be backed-up. An inexpensive scanner can make all of your paperwork electronic. This includes insurance policies, checks, billing, contracts and other materials.

    • Power Back-ups -- Uninterruptible Power Supplies (or UPS) systems could provide critical access to your computer systems in case of power outages. These are often inexpensive. Contact your technology supplier for more information.

    • How about telephones? -- Computers are not the only equipment your business relies on. How about telephones? Make plans with your telecommunications equipment provider to rent equipment should you need to move into a temporary facility.

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    Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes.

    Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.

    The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards. The United States Lifesaving Association has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million. If caught in a rip current at an unguarded beach, how you respond could make the difference between life and death.

    Rip Current Safety Tips

    Learn how to swim!

    When at the beach:

    • Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
    • Never swim alone.
    • Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
    • Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
    • Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
    • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist along side these structures.
    • Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
    • Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

    If caught in a rip current:

    • Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
    • Never fight against the current.
    • Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
    • Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
    • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
    • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

    If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:

    • Get help from a lifeguard.
    • If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
    • Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
    • Yell instructions on how to escape.
    • Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

    This information is courtesy of NOAA's National Weather Service and National Sea Grant Program, in partnership with the United States Lifesaving Association.

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    Your organization plays a critical role in the community. Your clients rely on you every day – and during an emergency situation, your role will be even more important. Are you prepared to operate during a disaster? Here is a quick-start guide to get you on track.

    Step 1 – Risk Assessment

    The first step in planning is investigating what risks you must plan for. Identify potential disasters…

    • Natural hazards
    • Technological hazards
    • What are the effects of potential disasters on your operations?
    • What are the effects of disasters on your clients or those that rely on your organization?

    Step 2 – How do you operate?

    Identify what services your organization must continue in an emergency – both internally and externally. Make sure to include administrative concerns like payroll. What services must you receive from others?

    Step 3 – Internal Planning

    • Identify what your organization needs to do to protect itself. Keep in mind your assets:

      • Personnel
      • Property
      • Records
      • Ability to function
    • Develop a business process flow chart. Use this to understand how your organization functions internally and what operations are critical to survival. Think about emergency payroll, expedited financial decision-making, and your accounting infrastructure.

    • Identify suppliers, providers, shippers, resources and other businesses you interact with, and develop relationships with alternate providers (understand their billing and payment requirements, delivery issues, ordering processes) in case your normal suppliers are incapacitated in an emergency.

    • Create a contact list that is stored in duplicate locations.

    • Assure appropriate storage of medical records and patient/client information.

    • Back-up information stored on computers. Consider off-site backup storage.

    • Determine your insurance coverage and associated issues.

    Step 4 – External Planning

    • Consider how your services to patients/clients can be continued. Do you have adequate staffing levels available? Have employees been urged to prepare their families and homes for disaster? Your staff will work best for you once their own worries are addressed.

    • Have your patients/clients been prioritized for care? Are they prepared for disaster situations with backup supplies or other needed items?

    • Make sure that organizations and companies you receive services from have been part of your planning efforts, and make sure that you have been part of theirs.


    • Through it all, break down the planning effort into smaller parts, continually asking ‘what if…?’ questions

    The Maine Emergency Management Agency offers workshops on operations continuity and emergency planning to service organizations. Interested? Contact us!

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    During an emergency, you might be asked to shelter-in-place. Do you know what that means? Are you, and your family members, ready to do it?

    Shelter-in-place is a method of protection often utilized when hazardous materials have been released into the atmosphere. It might also be used during dangerous storms like hurricanes, when it is safer for you to be home, than it is for you to travel to a temporary shelter.

    How Will You Know? -- You may hear about a shelter-in-place order through a number of sources. These include:

    • The Emergency Alert System (EAS) - information provided on the radio and television.
    • NOAA Weather Alert Radio.
    • Automated Telephone Calling System, if your community has one.
    • News Media.
    • Door-to-Door, where police or volunteers go door-to-door notifying residents of emergencies.
    • U.S. Coast Guard Marine Broadcast.
    • Pagers or TTYs, if you have signed up for an alerting service.

    When you are told to shelter-in-place, you should:

    • Immediately go indoors. If you are in your vehicle and are very close to home, your office, or a public building, go there immediately.
    • Close and lock all doors and windows. Locking is preferred since it generally ensures that the door or window is shut tight.
    • Close drapes, blinds and window shades.
    • Protect windows with pre-drilled plywood sheets, if there is time.
    • Go to a room in the center of your home with the fewest windows and doors.
    • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed during an emergency.
    • Remember that emergency workers will need their lines for emergency use. Call your county Emergency Management Office if you need more information. Call your local fire or police department (911) ONLY if you have an emergency. News announcements should tell you where to call for additional information.
    • Keep pets indoors. Make sure you have additional food and water supplies for them.
    • If you have livestock, shelter them, also. Provide them with stored feed and water.
    • Continue to monitor your Emergency Alert Station (EAS) and other television and radio stations for official messages and instructions.
    • Stay inside until officials say otherwise.

    In case of a hazardous materials emergency

    If hazardous materials are released, there are some special steps you can take to minimize harm:

    • Extinguish any open flames, including pilot lights and wood burning appliances.
    • Turn off all heating, air conditioning, and air handling equipment.
    • Close all fireplace dampers.
    • If there are gaps in your windows or doors, seal with tape or damp towels.
    • When choosing a room in the event of a hazardous materials release do not choose a basement room. Since most fumes are heavier then air, a low lying room will not be as effective.
    • Have a radio (preferably two: one electric and one battery-powered) in the ‘shelter’ room you’ve selected. Know the emergency alert system station for your area and tape the station numbers onto the side of each radio.

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    Many families include pets other than cats and dogs. Feathered, scaled or tiny friends have special safety needs. If you have to leave your home, they will need to leave as well. Here are some things to plan for:


    • Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.
    • In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing birds inside.
    • During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds’ feathers periodically.
    • Do not put water inside the carrier during transport.
    • Provide a few slices of fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content.
    • Have a photo for identification and leg bands.
    • Try to keep the carrier in a quiet area.
    • Do not let the birds out of the cage or carrier.

    Reptiles and Other Pets

    • Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site.
    • If your snakes require frequent feeding, carry food with you.
    • Take a water bowl large enough for soaking as well as a heating pad.
    • When transporting house lizards, follow the same directions as for birds.

    Pocket Pets

    • Small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.) should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered.
    • Take bedding materials, food bowls, and water bottles.

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    Following any emergency, additional injuries occur as people begin cleaning up and repairing their property. Using a chain saw can be especially dangerous.

    Follow safety precautions and take the time needed to stay safe during any clean-up procedures. However, if you have never used a chain saw, now is not a good time to start; find someone who can help.

    Fueling the saw

    • Do not smoke while fueling the chain saw!
    • Use a funnel or flexible hose
    • Never attempt to fuel a hot or running chain saw

    Personal protection

    • Be sure you have, and wear, hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protective equipment any time you use a chain saw

    Before starting the saw:

    • Check the controls, chain tension, and bolts and handles for proper adjustment
    • Make sure the chain is sharp and the lubrication reservoir is full
    • Start the chain on the ground
    • Start the saw at least ten feet from the fueling area
    • Be sure the chain-brake is on during starting

    Plan the cut:

    • Watch for tree limbs and trunks under tension that could spring back with deadly force if cut
    • Use extreme care to bring the object to the ground
    • Plan where the object will fall; ensure the fall area is free of hazards
    • Avoid felling an object into another one
    • Ensure you have a clear retreat path

    Using the saw:

    • Clear dirt, debris, limbs and rocks from the path of the saw before cutting
    • Check the tree for nails, spikes or other metal before cutting
    • Be sure your footing is secure before and during cutting
    • Keep your hands on the saw handles while cutting
    • Cut so the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
    • Beware of branches under tension that may spring out when cut.
    • Avoid saw kick-back by sawing with the blade, not the tip of the saw.
    • Never saw directly overhead

    Information courtesy of OSHA and the Maine Department of Labor Safety Works Program

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    Community Emergency Response Team members are trained volunteers who have learned how to take care of themselves, their families and their neighbors.

    To become a CERT, members undergo 20 hours of training and work under the leadership of the County Emergency Management Agency Director or municipal emergency management personnel.

    Depending on their training, Maine CERTs:

    • Provide back-up (ham radio) communication assistance within the Emergency Operations Centers during an emergency.

    • Assist with a search and rescue operation.

    • Provide shelter management both for families and their pets during an evacuation.

    • Assist with sand bagging during a flooding incident or provide traffic control.

    CERT Teams provide critical support to professional first responders; fire, police and emergency medical services.

    History of CERT

    The Community Emergency Response Team program started in California, with the Los Angeles Fire Department and the earthquake of 1987. The quake demonstrated the need for citizens to band together to help themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones when responders are unavailable, overwhelmed, or prevented from acting because of transportation difficulties. With that, CERT formed.

    CERTs have proven to be an active and vital part of their communities' preparedness and response capability. Across the country, CERTs have been used to:

    • Distribute and/or install smoke alarms and batteries to the elderly and disabled.
    • Assist with evacuations and traffic control.
    • Promote community awareness of potential hazards and preparedness measures.
    • Supplement staffing at special events, such as parades.
    • Act as victims in training exercises.

    CERTs in Maine

    Community Emergency Response Teams can form at any level… from a small town, to a city, to a county.

    Teams have been formed throughout the state, from small towns like Mercer and Greenbush to county-based teams in almost every county. For a full list and contact information, click the link to Citizen Corps below. To register, contact your County Emergency Management Agency or visit VolunteerMaine.org.

    If you do not see one for your county or town, contact your County Emergency Management Agency for more information on starting a team!

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    During an emergency, many organizations and people come together to help others ‘weather the storm.’ These could include first responders, non-profit organizations, elected officials, state, county and local emergency management agencies, and you.

    That’s right. You. Citizens can be critical resources when it comes to community emergency response. First responders are not an unlimited resource, and they may not always be available to help you or your neighbors during a disaster. They could be helping others, or even prevented from helping at all by a downed bridge or a flooded roadway.

    Are you ready to help yourself? Are you willing to pitch in with your neighbors, be professionally trained, and help emergency crews with neighborhood outreach, traffic control, search and rescue, animal response or others tasks?

    There are many ways you can help make your community stronger, safer and more able to weather the storm. The first step is easy: Learn more about how your local officials are planning for emergencies, how to join or start a Community Emergency Response Team and other ways you can get involved.

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    In an emergency, you will need water for drinking, food preparation and hygiene. Plan on having at least one gallon per person, per day on hand.

    Never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

    Storing Water

    • Use thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers.
    • Make sure the water storage container you plan to use is of food grade quality, such as 2-liter soda bottles, with tight-fitting screw-cap lids. Milk containers are not recommended for drinking water because they do not seal well
    • Never use a container that has held toxic substances.
    • Seal water containers tightly, label them and store in a cool, dark place.
    • Rotate water every six months. One way to do this is to keep a bottle in your refrigerator, for cold drinking water. When it is empty, fill it and put it "at the back of the line" and put the next bottle in the refrigerator. (If you have bought water in a sealed contained, you can keep it safely up to a year, or as recommended by the bottler.)

    Emergency Outdoor Water Sources

    It's always better to obtain drinking water from a source that you know to be pure (public water supply, bottled water). However, if in an emergency you need to find water outside your home from one of these sources, be sure to purify the water before drinking it. It is important to purify any water of unknown quality. Water that looks clear can be contaminated.

    • Rainwater
    • Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
    • Ponds and lakes
    • Natural springs

    Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first (see below). You should never drink flood water.

    If you have a well that has been flooded the water should be tested and disinfected after the waters recede. Do not try to disinfect a well that is still under water. For a six inch wide well that is 300 feet deep, one gallon of household bleach is needed. If you think your well may be contaminated, contact the Maine Drinking Water Program 24 hours a day at 557-4214.

    Three Ways to Purify Water

    You must purify all water of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene.

    There are many ways to purify water. None is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before purifying:

    • Let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.

    Boiling is the safest method of purifying water.

    • Bring water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes.
    • Let the water cool before drinking.
    • Improve the taste by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. (This will also improve the taste of stored water.)
    • Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite
    • Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.
    • Add 10 to 15 drops of bleach per quart of clear water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.
    • If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.


    Distillation will remove microbes not removed by boiling or disinfection, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.

    • Fill a pot halfway with water.
    • Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water)
    • Boil the water for 20 minutes.

    The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

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    Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns.

    Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. Most of the incidents associated with portable generators reported to CPSC involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.

    Carbon Monoxide Hazards

    This Warning Label is now required on portable generators by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

    When used in a confined space, generators can produce high levels of CO within minutes. When you use a portable generator, remember that you cannot see or smell CO. Even if you do not smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO.

    Danger labels are required on all portable generators manufactured or imported on or after May 14, 2007.

    If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY. The CO from generators can rapidly kill you.

    Follow these safety tips to protect against CO poisoning.

    • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
    • Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and at least 15 feet away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors. Make sure the generator’s exhaust is directed away from doors, windows, and vents.
    • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test batteries monthly.

    To avoid CO poisoning when using generators:

    • Never run generators indoors, including garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds.
    • Get to fresh air right away if you start to feel dizzy or weak.

    Electrical Hazards

    • Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be occupied in order to help avoid the CO hazard. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
    • Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all appliances connected to it. Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.
    • NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

    Fire Hazards

    • Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.
    • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

    The information in this Fact Sheet is courtesy of the Consumer Products Safety Commission

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    Flood water may have been contaminated so use gloves when handling clothing soiled by the flood. If possible, don't let flood water and mud dry on garments.

    • Separate wet items as soon as possible to keep colors from running.
    • Don't dry any clothes near a heat source.
    • When clothes are dry, shake and brush to remove loose soil.
    • Take clothes to be dry-cleaned as soon as possible. Tell drycleaner what caused damage.
    • Rinse washable clothes in clean cool water until rinse water is clear.
    • If hand washable, hand wash following these instructions:
      • Work a heavy duty detergent into all stained areas and let stand for 15 to 30 minutes. If badly soiled, soak overnight in cold water and detergent.
      • Test disinfectant on a hidden seam to be sure it doesn't harm the material. Add to the washing machine before the clothing. (Use Liquid chlorine bleach if it is safe for fabric. Pine oil is safe for most fabrics, but don't use either on washable wools or silks. Professionally dryclean.)

    • Follow care labels and wash with detergent in hottest water safe for the garments.
    • Don't overcrowd the washer and wash for the longest cycle available.
    • If an article is still stained after washing, rewash BEFORE drying.

    For cleaning leather and suede:

    • Dry away from direct heat.
    • Brush off as much mud as possible.
    • Use mild soap suds and cool water to remove remaining dirt.
    • Rinse with clean water and wipe gently with a clean cloth until dirt is removed. Do not get too wet while cleaning.
    • Stuff shoes, handbags and sleeves with paper to hold their shape.
    • Dry away from sun and heat.
    • Clean with saddle soap.
    • Use an oil to soften and prevent stiffening. The oil may darken the leather, so check before using.
    • Use a suede brush on suede, brushing in only one direction.

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    Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from a disaster.

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    Why talk about earthquakes?

    Earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. They can occur throughout the year at any time of day or night. Each year 70-75 damaging earthquakes occur around the world. In Maine we experience an average of 5 earthquakes per year.

    Forty-five states and territories in the United States are at moderate to very high risk of earthquakes. Maine is classified as a moderate risk state.

    How can I protect myself in an earthquake?

    Ground vibrations during an earthquake are seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects caused by the ground shaking. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified, because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a few feet during the shaking.

    Much of the damage caused by earthquakes is predictable and preventable. We must all work together in our communities to apply our knowledge to enact and enforce up-to-date building codes, and avoid building in hazardous areas, such as those prone to landslides. We must also look for and eliminate hazards at home. We must also learn and practice what to do if an earthquake occurs.

    Facts and Fiction

    Fiction: During an earthquake, you should get into a doorway for protection.
    Fact: In modern homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that will swing and can injure you. During an earthquake, you should get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on.

    Fiction: During an earthquake, the earth cracks open and people, cars, and animals can fall into those cracks.
    Fact: The earth does not crack open like the Grand Canyon. The earth moves and rumbles and, during that movement, small cracks can form. The usual displacements of the earth during an earthquake are caused by up-and-down movements, so shifts in the height of the soil are more likely than chasm-like cracks.

    Fiction: Someday there will be beachfront property in Arizona.
    Fact: The ocean is not a great hole into which California can fall, but is itself land at a somewhat lower elevation with water above it. The motion of plates will not make California sink – California is moving horizontally along the San Andreas Fault and up around the Transverse Ranges.

    Fiction: We have good building codes so we must have good buildings.
    Fact: Many of Maine’s buildings were built prior to 1950 when municipalities in Maine had no known building codes. These buildings are called “pre-code” structures. From 1950 – 2009, individual towns and cities had a variety of building codes, but there was no statewide standard. In 2010, Maine adopted the International Building Codes which will be enforced in all municipalities in Maine with a population of 2000 people or more.

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    Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake.

    Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.

    Six Ways to Plan Ahead

    1.Check for Hazards in the Home

    • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
    • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
    • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
    • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
    • Brace overhead light fixtures.
    • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
    • Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
    • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
    • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.

    2.Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors

    • Indoors:

      • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
      • Against an inside wall.
      • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
    • Outdoors

      • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.

    3.Educate Yourself and Family Members

    • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes. Also read FEMA's Protect Your Property from an Earthquake for additional information and guidance.
    • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
    • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.

    4.Have Disaster Supplies on Hand

    • Flashlight and extra batteries.
    • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
    • First aid kit and manual.
    • Emergency food and water.
    • Non-electric can opener.
    • Essential medicines.
    • Cash and credit cards.
    • Sturdy shoes.

    5.Develop an Emergency Communication Plan

    • In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
    • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
    • Visit our Maine Prepares "Make a Plan" section to learn more.

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    It can be frightening when the earth shakes. here are some tips to remember:

    Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

    If indoors

    • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
    • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
    • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
    • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load bearing doorway.
    • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
    • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
    • DO NOT use the elevators.

    If outdoors

    • Stay there.
    • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
    • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

    If in a moving vehicle

    • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
    • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

    If trapped under debris

    • Do not light a match.
    • Do not move about or kick up dust.
    • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
    • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

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    So a earthquake has occurred where you are. What is important to know?

    • Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
    • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
    • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
    • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
    • Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
    • Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves"). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
    • Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
    • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
    • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
    • Inspect utilities.
    • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

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    Plan for 3 to 7 days of supplies at home. If evacuating with your Grab-N-Go bag to a place with food and water, 1-2 days of supply for those items may be enough.

    Basic Supplies

    • Water—1 gallon per person per day
    • Non-perishable food and can opener
    • Radio—battery powered or hand-cranked
    • Flashlight
    • First aid kit and manual
    • Warm blankets or sleeping bag
    • Weather appropriate change of clothing, footwear and gloves
    • Sanitation items—garbage bags, ties, hand sanitizer, toilet paper
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Medications (7 days) and eye glasses
    • Cell phone and charger, coins or prepaid phone card
    • Emergency contact information
    • Cash or Traveler’s Checks
    • Local maps
    • Wrench or pliers for utility shutoff*
    • Extra batteries for all devices

    Additional Supplies

    • Baby needs—formula, diapers, towelettes, etc.
    • Medical/adaptive needs—hearing aids, wheelchair, oxygen tank, etc.
    • Pet needs—food, water, leash, crate, records, etc.
    • NOAA weather radio
    • Whistle
    • Fire extinguisher*
    • Dust mask, plastic sheeting, duct tape, and scissors*
    • Household chlorine bleach*
    • Important documents—copy of photo ID, account/insurance policy numbers, proof of residence
    • Matches in waterproof container
    • Paper cups, plates and utensils
    • Paper and pencil
    • Children’s books and games

    *Items not needed in the Grab-N-Go bag.

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    A Lightning Strike Changes Lives Forever

    In the United States, each year, lightning kills an average of 51 people and injures more than 204 people based on the last ten years of documented cases. While any death is tragic and also devastating to the family, injuries can be equally tragic and even more devastating to the family.

    Potential long-term problems include:

    1. Problems coding new information and accessing old information
    2. Problems multitasking
    3. Slower reaction time
    4. Distractibility
    5. Irritability and personality change
    6. Inattentiveness or forgetfulness
    7. Headaches which do not resolve with usual OTC medication
    8. Chronic pain from nerve injury
    9. Ringing in the ears and dizziness or balance problems
    10. Difficulty sleeping, sometimes sleeping excessively at first and later only two to three hours at a time

    For those who have a relative that suffers a significant disability from lightning, life changes forever. In addition to the physical pain and mental anguish suffered by the victim and the victim's family, the incident may lead to a loss of income for the family. Over time, medical expenses for treatment may drain the family's assets.

    If someone is struck by lightning, it is important that they receive the appropriate medical attention immediately. Some deaths can be prevented if the victims are attended to promptly. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to handle.

    First, have someone call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service. Check to see that the victim is breathing and has a pulse, and continue to monitor the victim until help arrives. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death in lightning fatalities. If necessary, begin cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

    Also, if possible, move the victim to a safer place. Don't let the rescuers become lightning victims. Lightning can strike the same place twice.

    Physically, only few lightning strike victims actually suffer burns. Due to the conductivity of the human body, lightning burns are usually minor, and most lightning burns are caused when objects next to the body (such as necklaces, rings, or metal coins) are heated by the lightning. In addition, sweat, vaporized by lightning, can also cause burns.

    Mentally, lightning strike victims may face many challenges that they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives. When the brain is affected by a lightning strike, the person often has difficulty with many of the mental processes that most people take for granted. The person may suffer from short-term memory loss, and may have difficulty mentally storing new information and accessing old information. Victims may often find it very difficult to carry on more than one task at a time, and may be easily distracted. Their personality may change and they may become easily irritated.

    Victims often complain of becoming easily fatigued and may become exhausted after only a few hours work. This may be because mental tasks that were once automatic may now require intense concentration to accomplish. Although some victims may sleep excessively at first, after a few weeks, many find it difficult to sleep more than two or three hours at a time.

    Another common long-term problem for survivors is pain. Medically, pain is difficult to quantify. Lightning strike victims often suffer irreparable nerve damage from which they will suffer for the rest of their lives. The pain can be so intense that it affects the person's ability to function. Many survivors complain of chronic headaches, some of which are very intense and debilitating.

    It is important to remember that, while many lightning victims survive, their lives are changed forever, and their dreams for the future and those of their family will never be the same.

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    Understanding the Science of Thunderstorms and Lightning

    By definition, all thunderstorms contain lightning. Lightning is a giant spark of electricity that occurs within the atmosphere or between the atmosphere and the ground. As lightning passes through the air, it heats the air rapidly to a temperature of about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun.

    During a lightning discharge, the sudden heating of the air causes it to expand rapidly. After the discharge, the air contracts quickly as it cools back to a normal temperature. This rapid expansion and contraction of the air causes a shock wave that we hear as thunder (this shock wave can damage walls and break glass).

    All thunderstorms go through various stages of growth, development, electrification, and dissipation. The process of thunderstorm development often begins early in the day when the sun heats the air near the ground and pockets of warmer air start to rise in the atmosphere. When these pockets reach a certain level in the atmosphere, cumulus clouds start to form. Continued heating can cause these clouds to grow vertically upward into the atmosphere. These "towering cumulus" clouds may be one of the first indications of a developing thunderstorm. The final stage of development occurs as the top of the cloud becomes anvil-shaped.

    As a thunderstorm cloud grows, precipitation forms within the cloud with mostly small ice crystals in the upper levels of the cloud, a mixture of small ice crystals and small hail (graupel) in the middle levels of the cloud, and a mixture of rain and melting hail in the lower levels of the cloud. Due to air movements and collisions between the precipitation particles near the middle of the cloud, the various precipitation particles become charged. The lighter ice crystals become positively charged and are carried upward into the upper part of the storm by the updraft. The heavier hail becomes negatively charged is suspended by the updraft or falls toward the lower part of the storm. The end result is that the top of the cloud becomes positively charged and the middle and lower part of the storm becomes negatively charged.

    Normally, the earth's surface has a slight negative charge; however, as the negative charges build up in the lower and middle part of the storm, the ground beneath the base of the cloud and in the area immediately surrounding the cloud becomes positively charged. As the cloud moves, these induced positive charges on the ground follow the cloud like a shadow. Farther away from the cloud base, but under the positively charged anvil, the negative charge may be further induced.

    In the initial stages of development, air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges. However, when the electrical potential between the positive and negative charges becomes too great, the insulating capacity of the air breaks down and there is a discharge of electricity that we know as lightning.

    Lightning can occur completely within the thunderstorm cloud or between the cloud and the ground. In-cloud lightning generally occurs between positive charges near the top of the cloud and negative charges near the middle or bottom of the cloud. Cloud-to-ground lightning occurs between charges in the cloud and charges on the ground. Lightning can also occur between clouds.

    Cloud-to-ground lightning can be categorized into two different types -- the negative flash and the positive flash. The negative flash usually occurs between the negative charges in the lower part of the storm and the positive charges on the ground under and near the cloud base. Positive flashes usually occur between the positively-charged upper levels of the storm and the negatively-charged area surrounding the storm.

    In the negative cloud-to-ground flash, an almost invisible, negatively-charged channel of air forms in the lower part of the cloud and surges downward toward the ground. As this "step leader" approaches the ground, streamers of positive charge propagate upward from trees, buildings, and other objects on the ground. When one or more of these streamers meet the step leader, the connection is complete, and the lightning channel discharges which we see as the very bright "return stroke" that we call lightning. The entire process takes only a small fraction of a second.

    The process for a positive flash is similar except that a positive channel usually originates in the anvil of the storm and propagates downward. In this case, streamers of negative charge move up to meet positively-charged channel as it approaches the ground. When a connection is made, a positive flash of lightning occurs.

    While both negative and positive flashes of lightning can be deadly, positive flashes are more apt to catch people by surprise. Because the distance between the ground and anvil is much greater than the distance between the ground and the cloud base, a much larger electric potential is needed to initiate a positive flash of lightning. For the same reason, positive flashes are infrequent and widely scattered around the storm.

    The greatest danger associated with the positive flashes, however, is that they strike in areas where most people think they are safe from the storm. They generally strike well beyond the area where rain is falling and well beyond the main area where most of the lightning (negative flashes) and thunder is occurring. Consequently, many victims are caught completely off guard.

    The best advice in order to minimize your risk of becoming a lightning victim is to get to a safe shelter sooner and to stay there longer. In general, if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of the storm.

    Remember…When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

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    Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Get Rid of Mold.

    • Take things that were wet for 2 or more days outside.
    • Things that stayed wet for 2 days have mold growing on them even if you can't see it. Take out stuff made of cloth, unless you can wash them in hot water. Also, take out stuff that can't be cleaned easily (like leather, paper, wood, and carpet).
    • Use bleach to clean mold off hard things (like floors, stoves, sinks, certain toys, countertops, flatware, plates, and tools).
    • Follow these steps: Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles, and N-95 mask.
    • Open windows and doors to get fresh air when you use bleach.
    • Mix no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
    • Wash the item with the bleach and water mixture.
    • If the surface of the item is rough, scrub the surface with a stiff brush.
    • Rinse the item with clean water.
    • Dry the item or leave it out to dry.

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    When disaster strikes, you want to be able to communicate by both receiving and distributing information to others. You may need to call 9-1-1 for assistance, locate friends or family, or let loved ones know that you are okay.

    During disasters, communications networks could be damaged, lose power, or become congested. This fact sheet provides two important sets of tips. The first will help you prepare your home and mobile devices for a disaster. The second may help you communicate more effectively during and immediately after a disaster.

    Before a Disaster: How to Prepare Your Home and Mobile Device

    1. Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers in your cell phone and in or near your home phone.
    2. Keep charged batteries and car-phone chargers available for back-up power for your cell phone.
    3. If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless phone in your home because if it will work even if you lose power..
    4. Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.
    5. Program “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.
    6. If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.
    7. If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
    8. Have a battery-powered radio or television available (with spare batteries).
    9. If you don;t know how to text on your cell phone, learn! Text messages can often get through when voice cell phone systems are jammed. Practice sending texts back and forth with family and friends.
    10. Subscribe to text alert services from local or state government to receive alerts in the event of a disaster. Parents should sign up for their school district emergency alert system.

    During and After a Disaster: How to Reach Friends, Loved Ones & Emergency Services

    1. If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1. Remember that you cannot currently text 9-1-1. If you are not experiencing an emergency, do not call 9-1-1.
    2. If you are in need of information such as location of emergency shelters, other services, or safety information, dial 2-1-1 (toll-free in Maine, 1-866-811-5695 if you are out of state) or if you have internet access,visit http://www.211maine.org
    3. For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are okay. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well program http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell
    4. Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
    5. If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
    6. Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone.
    7. If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.
    8. Tune into broadcast television and radio for important news alerts. If applicable, be sure that you know how to activate the closed captioning or video description on your television.
    9. If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop driving or pull over to the side of the road before making a call. Do not text on a cell phone, talk, or “tweet” without a hands free device while driving.
    10. Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving emergency calls get through to 9-1-1.
    11. Check this Maine Prepares site regularly to find other helpful tips for preparing for disasters and other emergencies.

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    This poster shows a map of historic earthquakes in Maine.

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    This poster helps you find earthquake hazards in your home or business.

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    The absolute best way to avoid being stranded with your vehicle is to stay off the roads. Emergency and transportation officials will always ask the public to curtail travel to allow road crews to do their work. Listen to them!

    However, sometimes the most careful of us is overcome by events.

    At the start of winter, create an emergency kit for your car, including flares or reflectors, snacks and blankets.

    And here are some tips from the National Safety Council in case you are caught in your vehicle in a winter storm. You'll notice that these tips make use of items from your car emergency kit.

    If You Become Stranded

    • Stay with your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help and are certain you will improve your situation
    • To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the vehicle a safe distance away
    • Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna
    • If you are sure the vehicle's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending on the amount of gas in the tank
    • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia; use woolen items and blankets to keep warm
    • Keep at least one window open slightly as heavy snow and ice can seal a vehicle shut
    • Eat hard candy to keep your mouth moist

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    This just in: Winter brings snow. Getting rid of all that white stuff is necessary, It can even be good exercise, but it brings its own safety concerns. Here are some tips to shovel and show-blow safely, courtesy of the National Safety Council.

    Snow Removal Safety

    Keep yourself safe from injury by taking these precautions:

    • Individuals over the age of 40, or those who are relatively inactive, should be especially careful.
    • If you have heart trouble, consult your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to shovel.
    • Wait a while to shovel after eating or while smoking.
    • Take it slow! Pace yourself. Shoveling can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Be sure to stretch out and warm up before taking on the task.
    • If you can, shovel soon after the storm, when the snow is fresh and powdery.
    • Push the snow as you shovel. It is easier on your back than trying to lift the snow out of the way.
    • Pick up small amounts at a time, especially if the snow is heavy and wet.
    • Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. This way you will keep your spine straight and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thigh muscles will do most of the work.
    • If you run out of breath, take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest, stop immediately. Stop before you reach the point of exhaustion.
    • Dress warmly. Limit exposure to your nose, ears, hands and feet. Turtleneck sweaters, cap, scarf, face protection, mittens wool socks and waterproof boots provide the best protection.

    Snow Blower Safety

    Be safe with these tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:

    • If the blower jams, turn it off.
    • Keep your hands away from the moving parts
    • If you have been drinking alcohol, do not use the snow blower
    • Be aware of the carbon monoxide risk of running a snow blower in an enclosed space
    • Refuel your snow blower when it is OFF, never when it is running

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    Whenever we get a large snowfall or a lot of snow over time, homeowners, tenants, and business operators should be alert to the danger posed by heavy snow loads on roofs and recognize warning signs of potential structural weaknesses.

    Flat and low-pitched roofs, most often found on industrial buildings, but also used in certain home designs, are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations.

    Often the risks can be mitigated by removing snow from roofs of both commercial buildings and homes, but this can also be dangerous. Here are some considerations for deciding whether snow should be removed, and how to remove it safely.

    How much snow is too much?

    Here are some guidelines from the Insurance Institute on Business and Home Safety. IBHS estimates the typical roof can handle 20 pounds per square foot of additional weight. However, if you have an older home or older roof, especially if you have had problems before, you might want to figure on less than 20 pounds.

    • Fresh snow: 10 to 12 inches of new snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 feet of new snow before the typical roof will become stressed.
    • Packed snow: 3 to 5 inches of old snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 feet of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
    • Ice: one inch of ice equals one foot of fresh snow or 5 pounds per square foot.

    As an example, two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity of most roofs.

    Removing snow safely

    • Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of heights plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous house chores. If you choose to do the task yourself, have someone outside with you to assist -- and to remind you not to take dangerous risks.
    • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
    • Remember that any snow that comes down can come down on you, so stand well back and rake small amounts at a time.
    • Start from the edge and work your way up onto the roof with the rake.
    • Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.
    • An aluminum rake will conduct electricity. Check where the power lines enter your house, and stay well away from that area while using a roof rake.
    • Remove large icicles carefully if they're hanging over doorways and walkways. A cubic foot of ice weighs about 62 pounds. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broom stick.
    • Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.
    • Keep gutters and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level.
    • If you are a business owner and have employees working on snow removal, review OSHA Winter Safety Guidelines.

    Things NOT to do:

    As a rule, anything that would require getting on to your roof may be too dangerous for anyone except a professional with the proper training and safety gear.

    • SAY NO to climbing on ladders. Ice and snow tend to build up on both the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots.
    • SAY NO to using an electric heating device like a hair dryer or heat gun to melt snow or ice. Melting ice makes water, and the mixing of water and electricity is a very bad idea.
    • SAY NO to using an open-flame device to remove snow and ice. An open flame can damage roofs and gutters and even set your house on fire, definitely going from bad to worse.

    Some signs that a roof might be stressed

    • Sagging roof sections
    • Severe roof leaks
    • Cracked or split wood members
    • Bends or ripples in supports
    • Cracks in walls or masonry
    • Sheared off screws from steel frames
    • Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles
    • Doors that pop open
    • Doors or windows that are difficult to open
    • Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
    • Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

    If any of these signs are observed, evacuate the building immediately and get the building inspected.

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