Ringing in the New Year with Bitter Cold Temps

December 31, 2013

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Dec. 31
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – With bitter cold temperatures expected this week, Governor Paul R. LePage is asking Mainers to be safe and check on neighbors who may be vulnerable or elderly. The National Weather Service reports that very cold air will continue to remain in Maine through at least Friday.

“We want every Mainer to ring in the New Year warm and safe. Take precautions against the cold yourself, and also check in on friends and neighbors who may need assistance, especially those who are operating generators or alternative heaters,” Governor LePage said. “Keeping pets safe is important, too. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning remains a central concern of state, county and local officials as some homes remain out of power from the recent storms, mostly in Hancock and Lincoln Counties. Since the ice storm began, one death has been attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning related to operation of an emergency generator. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking multiple additional CO poisoning cases.

The MaineCDC reminds Mainers that CO poisoning is not only related to generator use, it can also arise when alternative heat sources such as kerosene heaters are used improperly, when vents to home appliances are blocked, or when vehicles are improperly vented or run inside a garage.

“Neighbors helping neighbors save lives. Please share safety information with those who might not have received it,” Said Governor LePage.

• MaineCDC/MEMA Fact Sheet on Carbon Monoxide can be found here: http://www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/prep_display.shtml?163548

Emera Maine (formerly Bangor Hydro Electric) also reports that line crews working on restoration are encountering numerous cases of improperly installed generators. In addition to the risk to the resident of carbon monoxide poisoning, if the generator electrical connections are not made correctly power can feed back into the distribution system, putting line workers at extreme risk.

• Generator safety information from Emera Maine Here are severe cold safety tips and sources for additional information:

What you can do to stay warm:

• 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.
• Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia – impaired consciousness, sleepiness, confusion, and/or disorientation, shivering (may not see shivering in the elderly or people on certain medications), pale or blue skin, numbness, poor coordination, slurred speech.

For more help and information:

• Life or safety-threatening emergency: Call 9-1-1
• Power outage or downed power line: Call your electric utility
• Bangor Hydro Electric/Maine Public Service: 1-800-440-1111 (Central and Downeast Maine) and 1-877-655-4448 (Northern Maine)
• Central Maine Power: 1-800-696-1000
• Eastern Maine Electric: (207) 454-7555 Ext. 250, (800) 696-7444 Ext. 250
• For shelter locations or other health and safety resources: Dial 2-1-1 (toll free) or http://www.211maine.org
• Maine Prepares (weather alerts and safety information): http://www.maineprepares.com
• Maine Emergency Management Agency: http://www.maine.gov/mema
• MaineCDC’s “Stay Healthy This Winter” http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/heat-2008.shtml
• National Weather Service Gray: http://www.weather.gov/gray
• National Weather Service Caribou: http://www.weather.gov/caribou
• Maine DOT Travel Information: 511maine.gov or dial 5-1-1 (toll-free)
• MEMA on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MaineEMA
• MEMA on Twitter: @MaineEMA (twitter.com/MaineEMA)