Drought: The Basics

Drought: Household Water Impacts

Drought: Sensible Water Use

Drought: Monitoring Conditions

Fire Safety and Prevention: Wildfires

Fire Safety at Home

Flood and Flash Flood Safety

Flood Preparedness

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 Older Adults

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 and Lighning Safety - An Introduction

Lightning Safety and Sports Activities

Lightning: Questions and Answers

Lightning's Most Deadly Activities

Lightning Safety around the Home

Pandemic Flu

Red Tide (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning) Safety

Summer Storms: Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria

Terrorism Preparedness: Focus on 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: Initial Disaster Planning

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

Preventing or Thawing Frozen Water Pipes

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

Generator Safety

Flood: Cleaning your Clothes

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

Earthquake Facts

Earthquakes: What To Do Before

Earthquakes: What To Do During

Earthquakes: What To Do After

Emergency Supplies and Grab-n-Go Bag

Tsunami: Gulf of Maine Tsunami Threat

Tsunami: Overview

Tsunami: Staying Safe When a Tsunami Threatens

Tsunami: Mechanics of a Tsunami Wave

Tsunami: More Information

Lightning Safety at Work

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

Geomagnetic Storms

Drought Resources: Who to Call Guide

Drought: Agricultural Impacts

Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS)

Prevent Assault, Robbery and Car-Break-ins During the Holidays

Staying Safe in a Large Crowd

If You See Something, Say Something™

Christmas Tree Safety

Cyber Security

flood photo

Floods are the most common natural disaster in Maine. Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage. Review your insurance and make your plan today.

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.

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

The aurora borealis is triggered by geomagnetic storms, photo courtesy of NOAA

Drought is a period of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in its water supply. This can include atmospheric, surface water, or groundwater. More specific definitions of drought are below:

Meteorological Drought

  • When dry weather patterns dominate an area.

Hydrologic Drought

  • When low water supply becomes evident in streams, reservoirs, and groundwater levels. Hydrologic drought indicators lag significantly behind meteorological drought indicators.

Agricultural Drought

  • When precipitation deficits, soil water deficits, reduced ground water, or reduced reservoir levels impact agricultural yields.

Although all drought results from precipitation deficiencies, hydrologists are more concerned with how drought plays out through the water cycle. (WMO Handbook of Indicators and Indices)

It is uncommon for drought to significantly impact Maine because of typical precipitation levels, the state’s ground water hydrology, and a relatively low statewide demand for water compared to available resources. However, this does not mean that Maine is immune to water shortages.

Maine experienced a drought for the first time in 14 years in the summer of 2016. A lack of snowfall during the winter of 2015-2016 and continued precipitation deficits during the year as well as higher-than-normal temperatures contributed to the drought conditions. As of December 2016, 426 dry wells had been reported across the state and farmers were experiencing problems with irrigation and livestock feed. The drought is expected to continue through the winter, but slowly improve.

A drought from 1999-2002 caused 17,000 private wells to run dry in the 9 months prior to April 2002, and farmers lost more than 32 million dollars in crop production between 2001 and 2002 (1999-2002 USGS report, “Drought Conditions in Maine, 1999-2002: A Historical Perspective” (Lombard, 2002)).

Both the impacts and significance of drought depends on local conditions and the perspective of the stakeholder.

Here's more information on Monitoring Drought Conditions.

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Slightly more than half of Maine residents are served by a public water district, the rest depend on private wells for their household water.

Private Well Owners:

  • Do not dump foreign water in your well. The added water could contaminate your well with bacteria, viruses, heavy metals or stir up sediment resulting in illness and the water will likely leak out in a short period of time.
  • Disperse water usage throughout the day to allow for groundwater recharge.
  • Conserve water in your daily routine. Do not cut back on drinking water.
  • Visit the Division of Environmental Health’s Well Water Quality webpage for more links for private well owners.
  • The Water Systems Council is a non-profit organization focused on private wells, and operates the wellcare Hotline, a free service that can answer questions on wells and well water.

If your well runs dry:

Maine Emergency Management Agency is not responsible for these programs. Please contact them directly.

Public Water Supply:

  • Save water when requested by the water utility. This will lessen the chance for subsequent mandatory water restrictions.
  • Conserve water in your daily routine. Do not cut back on drinking water.
  • Check your home for leaks.
  • Take voluntary and mandatory water conservation messages seriously

Additional Information:

The Maine CDC Drinking Water Program has a great fact sheet on Preparing, Responding and Recovering from a Drought.

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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 or flush the toilet.
  • 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 or flushing the toilet.
  • 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.
  • Consider use of disposable plates and cups to reduce water use.


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

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 system 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, like a front loading washing machine.

For More Information

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U.S. Drought Monitor

A weekly drought monitor is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The map uses measurements of climatic, hydrologic and soil conditions, and reported impacts at locations around the United States.

U.S. Drought Monitor - Conditions for Maine

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

The National Weather Service (NOAA) produces a monthly U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook that uses extended weather forecasts to predict whether an existing drought is likely to persist, remain but improve, or subside. It also projects locations where drought development is likely.

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

Hydrological Drought Monitor

The U.S. Geological Survey monitors hydrological drought conditions through WaterWatch and GroundwaterWatch. WaterWatch monitors streamflow levels in real time and compares them to their historical averages at specific locations, and groundwater watch does the same for ground water levels.



Surface and groundwater levels can change quickly from local weather events, even with a small amount of rainfall. Resultantly, they can be misleading. WaterWatch produces a daily drought map that compares 7-day average streamflow to historical streamflow averages on the same date across Maine. Note this map defines hydrological drought.

WaterWatch Drought Map

Meteorological Drought

Drought is ultimately caused by precipitation deficits, which are all relative to the typical amount of rain/snowfall in a region. The High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) produces climate maps with support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) that display how recent precipitation amounts compare to long term averages across the United States. The time scale of recent precipitation levels can range from 30 days to two years.

ACIS Climate Maps

Information on the Standard Precipitation Index (SPI)

Agricultural Drought

Agricultural affects from drought are noticed after signs of meteorological and hydrological drought are observed. The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) is one of the oldest tools used to measure drought and was developed primarily for agricultural purposes. The PDSI uses temperature and precipitation data to estimate relative dryness. Monthly PDSI values capture long term trends and not data on time scales of less than 12 months.


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Wildfires or forest fires are uncontrolled fires that most often start in remote locations, but they can start anywhere and damage property and threaten lives. The most notable fires in Maine occurred in 1947, known as The Year Maine Burned. A quarter of a million acres of land, including nine towns were destroyed, leaving 2500 Mainers homeless.

Wildfires can occur any time of the year but, Maine is most vulnerable in the spring and fall when vegetation is not as green as during the summer.

Safety Precautions

Most often wildfires are started by humans in a number of ways, including smoking materials, campfires, carelessness and arson. Even permitted fires can get out of control in a very short period of time. By taking some precautions, we can all do our part help prevent wildfires.

  • When burning with a permit, watch 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.
  • Check the Maine Forest Service Fire Danger Level, which is updated daily before burning.

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!

For More Information

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The most common causes of home fires in Maine are heating sources and cooking. Other causes include electrical, open flames such as candles, sparks, embers and torches. In some cases the cause is unknown or suspicious in nature, meaning it may have been intentionally set.

Tips for a Safer Home

  • 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 three 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 9-1-1
  • Designate two 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

During a Fire

Having a plan and practicing your plan will help you remain calm and know what to do during a fire and may 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 electrical 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 9-1-1 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 pre-designated 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 flooding occurs in Maine, 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 there may be little or no advance notice.

Flood Facts:

  • A car or small truck will float in as little as two feet of water. If your vehicle begins to float, you lose 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.

Flood Fatalities in Maine

  • In 1996, heavy rain caused serious flooding in New Hampshire and western Maine. A Scarborough, Maine man drowned when he drove his car into a flooded roadway where the road had washed away.
  • In 2004, a man died in Gardiner 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, a woman and her little granddaughter in Limerick 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.

Safety Tips:

  • Never drive a car into a flooded roadway as the road underneath may be washed out.
  • Stay clear of 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 current can be powerful and there may be heavy debris swept along in the water, making it extremely dangerous.
  • Keep children and pets inside and away from flooded streets, culverts, and streams.
  • Report flooding to the appropriate authorities.
  • Obey 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.
  • Know your evacuation route and if advised to evacuate do so immediately.

For More Information

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The most common natural hazard facing Maine is flooding. Floods most often occur in January, March and April when the 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 but they can occur any time of the year.

Flooding can occur because of heavy rain, hurricanes, tropical storms, quickly melting snow, ice jams, dam breaches and seasonal storms.

Many flood-related deaths and injuries are caused by fast-moving water and in many cases could be avoided. The National Weather Service advises anyone who approaches a flooded area to Turn Around, Don’t Drown.™ As little as six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult and only a few feet can carry a vehicle away.

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.
  • Know the flood prone areas in your community - including dam locations.
  • Have a family evacuation/communications plan.
  • Know where and how to seek shelter 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).
  • Take steps to “flood proof” your home, such as elevating electronics, appliances and furniture, building a dam of sandbags, unplugging electronics and equipment and varnishing wood doors and floors.
  • During the flood stay tuned to radio or TV to get the latest information or monitor a NOAA Weather radio.
  • Pay attention to evacuation orders.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams or areas at risk of flooding.
  • DO NOT DRIVE ON FLOODED ROADWAYS or cross flowing streams, as the road underneath may be washed out.
  • Be cautious when driving at night as it may be more difficult to recognize flood dangers.

For More Information

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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

  • Pull up carpets and rugs to prevent further damage to the floor.
    • Waffle-weave and foam or rubber-type pads may be reused.
  • 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.
  • Open windows if weather permits or use electric fans or lights to get air and heat to carpets.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After cleaning each section, brush the wet pile in one direction with the applicator.
  • When the foam is completely dry, vacuum to remove shampoo and loose dirt.
  • 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.
  • Rinse several time with clear water, wringing most of water from sponge each time. Change water when it becomes dirty.
  • Blot up remaining moisture with towels.
  • 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.
  • Cover areas you must walk on with brown paper until thoroughly dry.
  • Vacuum when dry and brush nap in one direction.


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

Vinyl floors

  • With wood sub-flooring: Remove floor covering to replace sub-flooring.
  • 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.

For More Information

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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:

Sheets, Towels, & Linens

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

Blankets and Comforters

  • Wash only one at a time.
  • Shake and brush to remove surface dirt. Follow manufacturer's instructions if available.
  • 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.
  • Wash with mild detergent, disinfectant, and lukewarm water. Use as little agitation as possible.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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

Electric Blankets

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

Foam Rubber or Urethane Pillows

  • Remove cover and brush off surface dirt.
  • Follow manufacturers directions if available.
  • If not available, use a bathtub or large sink.
  • Soak in cool water; then wash in warm suds by hand. Compress the pillow and release. Do not twist or wring.
  • Rinse the same way in lukewarm water.
  • Gently squeeze or spin out excess water. Blot with towels.
  • 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

  • Brush off surface dirt.
  • 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.
  • Rinse 3 times in clear, warm water.
  • Spin off water in automatic machine.
  • Tumble dry in dryer at moderate setting with several bath towels OR press out as much water as possible by hand and hang on line outdoors to dry.

Feather Pillows

  • Wash feathers and ticking together if ticking is in good condition. If not, or if badly soiled, wash separately (see following instructions for separating).
  • Brush off surface dirt.
  • Open a few inches of the seam at opposite corners of the pillow, turn edges and sew loosely with strong thread.
  • Wash in machine or by hand. Use warm suds and disinfectant. Wash for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not wash more than two pillows at a time in an automatic washer.
  • Rinse at least 3 times in clear warm water.
  • Spin off water or gently squeeze out. Do not use wringer.
  • 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:

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

  • Scrape off surface dirt. Wear gloves and wash with a bleach solution (3/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water).
  • Put the mattress in the sun. Turn occasionally to dry. Fans may speed up the process.
  • 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 wash with bleach.

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 a 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:


  • 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 re-tarnish 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.

  • If paper is damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder between the pages, to absorb moisture. Leave powder for several hours, then brush off.
  • Place books on end with pages separated.
  • When books are partially dry, pile and press them to keep pages from crumpling.
  • Alternate drying and pressing until thoroughly dry. Use a fan to hasten drying.
  • When books are nearly dry, apply low heat with an electric iron. Separate the pages to prevent musty odors.
  • 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:

  • All actual losses, including furniture, clothes, paintings, artifacts, food, and equipment, even if you don't intend to replace them.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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, exit your home immediately and 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 the 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 will 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 your home could be subject to flooding. Contact your town or county emergency management agency if you are 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 preceding 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 16th highest per capita lightning casualties rate in the US.

In the United States, there are between 20 and 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year. Maine averages about 60,000 flashes each year. While lightning can be fascinating to watch, it is also extremely dangerous. Each one of those 25 million flashes is a potential killer. Based on data for the last 30 years (1987 to 2016), lightning has killed almost more than 1400 people in the United States, an average of 47 people per year based on documented cases. In addition, during this same period, lightning has injured an estimated 13,000 people, some left with life-long neurological damage. In the last 10 years, Maine has seen 2 deaths, both in 2008, making it the 16th highest in the nation per capita.

Lightning causes considerable damage ...

In addition to the deaths and injuries, lightning causes considerable damage across the nation. Each year, lightning is the cause of about 25,000 fires, including about 4400 house fires, 1800 other structural fires, and numerous forest fires. Those fires are responsible for an additional estimated 12 deaths per year. All totaled, lightning causes nearly $1 billion in damages each year.

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. If the vehicle is struck, the lightning will follow the outer metal shell of the vehicle to the ground. It's important to make sure that you're fully inside the vehicle with the windows rolled up. Note that the rubber tires do not prevent the vehicle from being struck, nor do they provide any protection.
  • Avoid open areas and stay away from isolated tall objects.

More about lightning safety and sports activities...

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 ...

Remember - There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. When thunder roars, go indoors!

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Have Fun, but Be Safe!

Whether you're out kicking a ball around with a friend, or at a major sports event, you should be prepared to get to a safe place in case a thunderstorm threatens. Since 2006, sports activities (golf, soccer, running, baseball, football) contributed to 31 lightning deaths in the United States. In many cases, those involved in the activities failed to realize the developing danger.

For anyone outside, whether you're involved in sports or some other activity, keep an eye on the sky and head to safety at the first sign of a developing or approaching storm. If you hear thunder, you're already in danger and should head inside a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle immediately.

Officials in charge of organized sports should have a lightning safety plan, and those involved in the sport (and their parents) should understand the plan and know what to do. The plan should include where the participants and spectators go for safety, when the event should be stopped, when the event should be resumed, and who is in charge of making weather-related safety decisions. It's also important to designate a person to monitor conditions and to keep those in charge informed of weather-related threats. The plan should also account for the time required to get everyone to safety.

For stadiums and larger venues, the National Weather Service has toolkits which provide templates to help design a safety plan. Those toolkits can be found at: https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-toolkits

Whether you're out for a run, watching your child's game, or attending a major sports event, remember that there's no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. When thunder roars, go indoors!

Question of the day:

  • Q: Are there more golfers killed by lightning than by any other activity?

  • A: While golfing is very dangerous when a thunderstorm is in the area, during the past ten years, soccer has contributed to more sports-related lightning fatalities than golf. During that time, golf led to 10 fatalities. This compares with 12 for soccer, 5 for running, 3 for baseball, and 1 for football. In comparison, fishing led to 34 lightning deaths, more than all sports combined.

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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 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

Some activities are more dangerous than others ...

If you're outside when a thunderstorm is in the area, you're at risk of being struck and potentially killed or seriously injured by lightning. However, there are some activities that lead to more lightning deaths and injuries than others.

In the past twelve years, leisure activities led to almost two thirds of the lightning fatalities in the United States. Water-related activities, and particularly fishing, contributed most to the fatalities. Since 2006, 34 people who had been fishing died as a result of lightning. Boating and beach activities also contributed significantly to the death toll. In most cases, victims simply waited far too long before starting to seek shelter.

When it comes to water-related activities, there are several important things to remember.

  • Always have a plan so that you can get to a safe place before the storm arrives.
  • Head to that safe place immediately if you see any signs of a developing or approaching thunderstorm. Don't hesitate.

Question of the day:

  • Q: If water activities are so dangerous, why don't all the fish in a pond or lake get killed when lightning strikes the water?
  • A: When lightning strikes water, most of the discharge occurs along the surface of the water. Since most fish swim well below the water surface, they are safe. However, people normally swim along the surface of the water and can easily be killed by a lightning discharge.

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When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors ...

Although houses and other substantial building offer the best protection from lightning, each year many homes across the United States are struck by lightning. 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.

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

Indoor safety depends on avoiding contact with items that could conduct lightning within the home. Here are some indoor safety tips to follow when a thunderstorm is in the area.

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.

  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.

  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

In case your home is struck by lightning:

  • Evacuate your home immediately if you smell smoke and call 911.

  • Call your local fire department and, if possible, have them check for hot spots in your walls with thermal imaging equipment.

  • Make sure all smoke detectors are powered and operating properly.

  • If needed, have a licensed electrician check the wiring in your home

Question of the day:

  • Q: What are lightning rods and how do they work?

  • A: 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 follow, 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 caused by lightning entering a structure via wires and pipes. Lightning protection systems should be purchased from and installed by a certified lightning protection specialist.

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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 frightening, no matter where it might occur. Although Maine is not considered a prime target for terrorist activities as we usually think of them, acts of violence in workplaces, schools and even places of worship across the country have shown that no area is immune.

State and Federal agencies in Maine are taking steps every day 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 make emergency plans, or should an attack occur in the US or abroad:

  • Finding out what can happen is the first step. Determine what the possible threats are in your area or workplace, or places you might be traveling, and discuss them with your family, household, and co-workers.
  • Create a family plan to deal with any emergency. The supplies you need, and the steps you need to take, are the same for virtually any disaster. Visit MainePrepares for a wealth of information about building an emergency plan and assembling emergency supplies.
  • Learn the school and day care emergency plans for your school-age children.
  • Learn your workplace emergency plans
  • Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activities to local authorities. If you see something, say something.
  • If you have family in areas that may be vulnerable to attacks or any disaster, make sure you have a plan to communicate with them. Remember that cell phones may be jammed, so plan alternate ways to get in touch, such as texting, e-mail, voice mail messages, etc. Planning can save you a lot of anxiety.
  • If an event occurs, in the immediate aftermath there is likely to be confusion about what exactly has happened. Be sure you have accurate information before sharing it with family and friends. Be wary of information received over social media; look for official confirmation.
  • Stay informed. Follow any official instructions you receive.
  • Stay focused on the facts of the situation. 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, as on 9/11/2001, an attack anywhere in the US or abroad may disrupt air travel and other modes of transportation and have other indirect impacts.

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Tornadoes are nature's most violent storm. By definition, a tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of the thunderstorm cloud to the ground.

Usually, prior to the development of a tornado, a pre-tornadic thunderstorm develops a circulation, that is, it starts rotating (a meso-cyclone). As this rotation becomes stronger, the chance that a tornado may develop also increases. Although the National Weather Service's Doppler Radar generally can not see the actual tornado, the Radar does detect rotation of the thunderstorm cloud, and thereby gives some indication of the possibility that a tornado may be forming or has formed.

The scale used to measure tornado damage is the Enhanced Fujita scale (named after Theodore Fujita, a famous tornado damage expert). This scale is commonly referred to as the E-F scale. Based on scientific studies of tornado damage, the original Fujita scale was modified and the new "Enhanced Fujita Scale" was officially implemented in 2007.

  • EF-0 - Light damage (winds 65 to 85 mph)
  • EF-1 - Moderate damage (winds 86 to 110 mph)
  • EF-2 - Considerable damage (winds 111 to 135 mph)
  • EF-3 - Severe damage (winds 136 to 165 mph)
  • EF-4 - Devastating damage (winds 166 to 200 mph)
  • EF-5 - Incredible damage (winds over 200 mph)

Tornadoes and Maine:

Peak tornado activity in northern New England occurs between June and August, but tornadoes have occurred as early as May and as late as November. Most tornadoes occur between 3 and 9 pm and have an average forward speed of about 30 mph. For the 40 year period between 1950 and 1990, 74 tornadoes occurred in Maine. This is an average of about 2 tornadoes per year. During 2017 seven tornadoes touched down in Maine.

Due to the usual short life-span of tornadoes in northern New England, there is often little, if any, advance warning. Tornadoes in New England generally touch down and then lift off the ground very quickly. Many of the tornadoes that have occurred in the past, have occurred while severe thunderstorm warnings have been in effect. If you hear that a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for your area, be alert for the possibility of a tornado. A low rotating cloud, large hail, and/or a load roar are all signs that may precede the touchdown of a tornado.

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 (water left overnight will probably freeze)
  • First aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Good spare tire, jack and lug wrench
  • Flares or reflectors
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Brightly colored cloth for emergency flagging
  • Cell phone with emergency phone numbers programmed and spare charger
  • 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
  • Always have at least a half tank of gas in winter

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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 are forced to shelter in place at home for three days and don't have electricity? Build an emergency preparedness kit with the following items:

  • Three-day supply of nonperishable food that does not require cooking
  • Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day)
  • Portable, battery powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Cash (enough for at least three-days' worth of expenses)
  • Telephone that works without electricity
  • A safe way to heat food and water such as a camp stove, etc.
  • Sleeping bags, extra blankets, and warm clothing to stay warm if you have no heat or electricity
  • Three-day supply of medication (never let your supply run below three days' worth)
  • 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'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 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 fact check information, even if it came from a trusted friend or other reliable source.

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.

There are some excellent Internet sites that 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 before providing any financial information or computer log-in information. Warning messages that request immediate action are often a scam to gain access to your personal or financial information.


The internet gives us the power to become publishers of information. We all have the responsibility of making sure that the information we send to others is accurate every day and especially during an emergency.

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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, you will need to act quickly to protect or evacuate livestock. Here are some areas to consider in your planning:

Where to take your livestock:

  • Identify a safe location to take your livestock
  • Inform friends and neighbors of your evacuation plans
  • Post detailed instructions in several places in case you are unable to evacuate them yourself
  • Make arrangements in advance to have your livestock moved by trailer 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 must 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 have access to a trailer
  • Create a first aid kit for your animal(s)
  • 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:

Ensure the following:

  • The appropriate size vehicle for towing is used
  • The hitch is properly secured
  • The safety chain is correctly connected to the vehicle frame
  • The brakes and lights are in working order
  • The trailer is properly registered
  • The trailer is free from debris and in good working order

Livestock identification:

  • Use halters that include:

    • The animal’s name
    • Your name and phone number
    • A secondary number
  • Consider a tattoo or ear tags

Sheltering in place:

  • Determine if it's safe to shelter in place rather than evacuate
  • Be sure you have adequate supplies of food and water
  • Consider methods of providing water and food should you be without electricity for an extended period of time. Maine livestock owners report 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 lost functions:

  • Electric fences
  • Water pumps
  • Heating or cooling systems

To plan for these situations:

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

After a Disaster:

  • Inspect your structures to ensure safety
  • Document and photograph damage
  • 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 with your County Animal Response Team (CART). CART teams are part of the County Emergency Management Agency. These teams of trained volunteers 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 can be devastating for farmers and livestock but they can often be prevented by taking some basic steps.

Before a Barn Fire Occurs

  • 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

During 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 animal 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 the VolunteerMaine 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.

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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 offers 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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Suffering a financial loss due to a natural or man-made disaster can be as devastating as physical damage to your property. Taking care to protect your financial, insurance and medical records can save you a great deal of stress and heartache after the storm. Taking some steps to prepare can help you later when reconnecting with family members or when applying for assistance or filing an insurance claim.

Household Inventory

Perform an inventory of your household. Many insurance companies offer a booklet to help with 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 and store in a safe place such as a safe deposit box. Update it when major items are added or replaced.

Financial Information

Develop a list of financial information including credit card numbers and the phone 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 and deeds. Keep copies of tax statements and pay statements. Make duplicate copies for your safe deposit box.

Insurance Policies

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

Medical Information

Capture important medical information for each household member. 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. Include a photocopy of your medical insurance card(s).

Identification Information

Gather identification information for each household member that includes a recent photograph. Include contact information including name, address and telephone numbers for home, work, school, church, and emergency family contacts. Include birth, death, marriage and divorce records, 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.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors are very important regardless of how you heat your home and could 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 use, 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 damp places, such as bathrooms; corrosion or other damage may lead to a fire or create a shock hazard. Never use heaters to thaw pipes, or dry laundry.
  • Never cover cords with rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat and could 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 cord 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. A loose plug can overheat; have a qualified electrician replace the worn-out plug or outlet. Heaters draw lots of power so the cord and plug may get hot. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified electrician check for problems. If the heater and its plug are 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 provider. Do not attempt to repair it yourself, unless you are a qualified appliance service provider.

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:

    • An automatic starter that will eliminate the need for matches.
    • A fuel gauge to prevent overfilling the heater, causing a hazard.
    • 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 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.

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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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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

For the Caribou forecast area visit

NWS Caribou Storm Report 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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As a business owner, consider the following:

  • Risks that could affect your business
  • An alternate worksite if you have to relocate temporarily
  • An alternate supplier if your current supplier shuts down
  • Communicating with staff to ensure they know what to do in case of an emergency
  • Ways to help the 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 of survival.

Get started with emergency planning for your business:

  • Identify the risks that might affect your company both internally and externally. Find out which disasters are possible and and determine which are most common in the areas where you operate.
  • Consider how a disaster would affect your suppliers and customers. A disaster elsewhere can affect your business if you can't get supplies or ship your products.
  • Meet with your insurance agent and discuss additional coverage such as flood insurance or business interruption insurance, which would cover lost income in the event of a disaster. Normal business insurance does not cover flooding.
  • 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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Camping can be fun, but with any activity there may be risks. Planning ahead and packing adequate supplies will keep it safe and fun.

  • Notify friends and family of your destination and expected date of return
  • Utilize park registers so they know you are in the park in case you don’t return
  • Charge your cell phone and bring an extra battery
  • Ask park rangers about wildlife in the area and keep your campsite free from food odors by using pet-resistant containers and clearing trash
  • 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
  • Extinguish campfires when going to sleep or leaving the campsite by covering the fire with dirt or pouring water over it.
  • Watch for poison oak, ivy and sumac and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect against them
  • Check kids, pets and yourself each day for ticks

Important items to pack:

  • Map of the area
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs
  • Extra food
  • Extra clothing, including rain gear, boots and warm clothing
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • A pocketknife
  • Folding saw
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Plenty of clean drinking water
  • Insect repellent
  • Full water bottles for hikes
  • A waterproof, lightweight fire resistant tent
  • Ground insulation for sleeping
  • A blanket for emergencies
  • A signaling device, such as a whistle, mirror, pocket flare, walkie-talkie, or cellphone
  • Duct tape
  • Nylon rope

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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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If you have pets or livestock it's important to prepare for disasters such as a flood, winter storm, forest fire, hurricane, earthquake, hazardous material leak or dam failure.

Think about how you would meet your daily needs during a disaster and plan for all situations.

Evacuation or Shelter

Plan ahead for possible evacuations

  • Call hotels or motels to see if they are pet friendly
  • Contact local authorities to ask 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 plan to be away
  • Post your evacuation plans near the door


  • Always evacuate if advised to do so
  • Evacuate your pets and/or livestock according to your plan
  • Be aware of evacuation routes and don't take alternate routes, as there may be hazards
  • Evacuate as early as possible to avoid traffic congestion

If you need to go to a shelter

  • 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 identification. Most veterinarians or animal shelters can do this for a small fee.
  • Make arrangements with family or friends to take care of your animals if you plan to be away
  • Keep a list of names and phone numbers, including your veterinarian, by the door

Shelter in Place

Staying put may be the recommended option rather than evacuation. To keep animals safe on site you may need the following:

  • Generator
  • A way to store fuel
  • 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.

    For More Information

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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.

    For More Information

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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.

    For More Information

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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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    One in four businesses will close after a major disaster according to the Small Business Administration. Taking some preparedness steps – many at no cost – will leave you more prepared for an emergency or disaster.


    • Know the emergencies that 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. Let them know how your business might be able to assist in the community in a major disaster.
    • Discuss your current insurance coverage with your provider. 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 crucial 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 uninhabitable.
    • 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 staff 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 staff.
    • 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 system 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 staff to training 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

    For More Information

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

    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 reaches out to the community for 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 build relationships with elected officials.

    Do research -- They get to know the laws and ordinances governing emergency planning, existing plans, community hazards, risks and vulnerabilities, and the local geography and demography.

    A meeting -- They identify potential hazards and risks in the community, look at historical events, determine the most likely events to happen in the future and whether there would be loss of property or life.

    What do they do? -- To best respond, they evaluate their operations in an emergency and 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 risk?

    Can they handle it? -- It is important to consider the people, skills and training required:

    • Facilities (for an operations center, supplies, shelters)
    • Plans and procedures (operations plans, laws and ordinances)
    • Supplies (shelter kits, food, water, message forms, money).

    What if they can’t do it? -- Many communities have mutual aid agreements with other communities communities to provide assistance when they do not have enough people or resources. They also recruit and train volunteers in Community Emergency Response Teams and solicit support from the business community.

    Hazard-specific planning -- Once they identify potential hazards they plan how they would respond to each one.

    Test it -- They 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 evaluate the plan and determine whether the plan operated as intended and if they could do it better next time.

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    Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States.

    Flooding can happen anytime, anywhere and not necessarily near the coast, lakes or rivers. In recent years, about 25% of national flood insurance claims came from places not considered high risk for flooding. Flooding can be caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rain, ice jams, fast melting snow, and dam failures. Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to a home or business.

    Flood insurance

    Standard homeowner’s or business insurance does not cover flood damage.

    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.

    Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners and business owners. Because government assistance is not always available to help homeowners rebuild, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance. If federal money becomes available, it usually only covers the cost of making a home safe and clean, it doesn’t replace property. Grants are sometimes available to those without insurance, but there is no guarantee grant money will be available. Low-interest loans may also be available, but must be repaid with interest.

    The cost of flood insurance depends on the amount of coverage, what is covered and the property’s flood risk. The average cost in 2015 was about $700 a year. Policies are available for up to $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for its contents.

    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.

    For More Information

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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.

    For More Information

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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.

    For More Information

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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 use 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 need to be in a sturdy carrier/cage that they can’t escape from while sheltered.
    • 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 that they can’t escape from while sheltered.
    • Take bedding materials, food bowls, and water bottles.

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    Following many natural disasters, injuries can occur as people begin cleaning up and repairing property. These injuries are sometimes caused by the improper use of a chainsaw, which can be especially dangerous.

    Follow the safety precautions below and take the time needed to stay safe during any clean-up procedures. If you have never used a chain saw, now is not a good time to start; you should find someone with experience 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
    • Use an approved container for transporting fuel to the saw

    Personal protection

    • Wear non-slip gloves, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protective equipment any time you use a chain saw
    • Wear clothing that is trim fitting and will not get caught in the chainsaw
    • Wear non-slip safety shoes or boots

    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
    • Avoid working alone, if possible, so someone can go for assistance, if needed

    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 exit path
    • Avoid cutting down trees on a windy day, as wind can cause unpredictable hazards

    Using the saw:

    • Never cut a tree near or touching power lines; call the local power company if lines are nearby
    • 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
    • Do not carry a running chainsaw up a ladder, use a rope to hoist it into the tree then start the chainsaw

    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 Community Emergency Response Teams 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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    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.

    For More Information

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

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    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 five 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.

    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 identify and eliminate hazards at home, make an emergency earthquake plan and practice that plan.

    During an earthquake, you should get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on.

    Avoid doorways as they generally are no stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that will swing and can injure you.

    It’s a common myth that during an earthquake, the earth cracks open and people, cars, and animals can fall into those cracks. 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.

    Not all buildings meet building codes. 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. The Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) must be enforced in all municipalities with a population of 4,000 residents or more. Municipalities with less than 4,000 residents are encouraged to adopt and enforce MUBEC, but are not required to do so. For more information on Building and Energy codes in Maine, visit: http://www.maine.gov/dps/bbcs/ and scroll down to Codes Adoption History.

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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.

    How to Plan Ahead

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    For More Information

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    An earthquake can be very scary, but the tips below will help keep you as safe as possible.

    Some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake could follow. 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.
    • Electricity may be interrupted or the sprinkler system 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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    An earthquake occurred in your area, now what?

    • 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 affected 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 medicine, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from 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 line damage. If you suspect sewage line damage, 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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    Tsunamis that threaten the coast of Maine can originate in the open ocean or within the Gulf of Maine. Those originating outside the Gulf of Maine can produce damaging impacts along the entire Maine coast while those originating in the Gulf of Maine are likely to have more localized impacts.


    The shallow waters of Georges Bank and the continental shelf greatly lessen the threat of tsunamis in Maine. When tsunami waves that are generated outside the Gulf of Maine encounter the shallow waters of Georges Bank, the tsunami loses speed and begins to break and a portion of the wave energy is reflected back out to sea. Wave energy, however, can still permeate the Gulf of Maine through the deeper water of Northeast and Great South Channels. The deeper water allows the waves to continue to travel at faster speeds through the channels than in the shallower waters on either side. Much of the incoming tsunami wave energy would then be refracted to the right and left of the channels and that initial energy would be redirected toward Georges Bank and Nova Scotia. However, ensuing reflections and refractions of this wave energy would lead to rapid and chaotic fluctuations of water levels in the Gulf of Maine that could last for more than 6 hours. These fluctuations could cause strong, dangerous, and damaging currents along the coast and could cause inundation at the time of high tide.

    The two most significant tsunami sources outside the Gulf of Maine would be a major earthquake along the subduction zone of the Puerto Rican Trench (just to the north of Puerto Rico) or a large sediment slide on the continental slope of the East Coast. If a tsunami were to originate in the Puerto Rican Trench, much of the tsunami wave energy would be directed north toward the Gulf of Maine. This tsunami would reach Maine between 5 and 6 hours after the earthquake, which allows time for a warning or advisory. Although this tsunami poses a threat to Maine, the impacts to northern New England of a tsunami generated along the Puerto Rican Trench would be relatively small compared to those on Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

    A large sediment slide or slump along the continental slope can also generate a tsunami with the potential to enter the Gulf of Maine. The exact impacts of slide or slump depend on the orientation of the slide or slump with respect to the Northeast and Great South Channels and magnitude of the slide or slump.


    Sediment slides or slumps in the Gulf of Maine can also cause tsunami waves, though these are more likely to be localized. Slides or slumps are most likely to occur near the coast or along the northern edge of one of the banks or ledges in the Gulf of Maine. The exact impacts of the tsunami waves depend on the orientation and magnitude of the movement of the continental slope. There would be little warning time for the subsequent tsunami because of their proximity to the coastline of Maine.

    Locally sourced tsunamis can also be generated by the atmospheric pressure waves. Also known as meteotsunamis, these waves are caused by a harmonic resonance between the atmosphere and the ocean. This resonance allows the ocean wave to grow with time as both waves move in unison. Since the forward speed of the wave is determined by the depth of the ocean, the atmospheric feature needs to move at the just the right speed as determined by the ocean depth. In the Gulf of Maine, very fast moving weather systems can meet this requirement. The movement of both the atmospheric and the ocean waves need to move toward the coast to threaten Maine. A meteotsunami caused the unusual tidal fluctuations that occurred along the mid-coast in October 2008.

    Tsunami Brochure

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    Tsunamis are a deadly force due to the energy involved with such a large displacement of water. While approximately 80 percent of tsunamis occur within the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” all coastal communities are vulnerable to the threat of tsunamis. Tsunamis are typically generated by tectonic plate movement along the ocean floor, but tsunami waves can be caused by localized landslides and land slumps along the shoreline as well as by asteroids plunging into the ocean. Fast moving atmospheric pressure waves such as those caused by squall lines are also capable of producing tsunami-like waves.

    The 2011 tsunami in the Pacific Ocean highlights the dangers associated with these seismic sea waves. The tsunami that is most known for the devastation it caused across Japan also crossed the Pacific Ocean at speeds of about 500 mph to reach the West Coast of the United States. While the tsunami wave was only several feet high when it hit the west coast of the United States, the powerful current created by the tsunami wave caused an estimated 40 million dollars in damage in California. The tsunami claimed one life in Crescent City Harbor and sank 16 boats while damaging 47 more.

    Georges Bank and the continental shelf shelter much of Maine and New Hampshire from potential tsunami waves. Still, the region is vulnerable to waves similar to those that hit California. Vessels, docks, and piers along the coast and in the channels are particularly vulnerable. Structures along the immediate coast can also be damaged if a tsunami strikes near high tide. Tsunami events are often associated with large earthquakes but smaller tsunami can strike without warning. While many people assume the water along the coast will retreat prior to the first tsunami wave, this is not necessarily the case. The first elevated wave may reach the shore before any water retreats.

    While major Tsunami events are often associated with large earthquakes, smaller tsunami can strike without warning. Although many people assume the water along the coast will retreat prior to the first tsunami wave, this is not necessarily the case. In many cases, the first elevated wave will reach the shore before any water retreats.

    The National Weather Service has the following recommendations:

    1. Whether from a tsunami or flood, always respect the power of moving water.

    2. If a Tsunami Warning or Advisory has been issued:

    • Get out of the water and move to higher ground.
    • Keep a safe distance from the water's edge.
    • Monitor children closely.

    Tsunami Brochure

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    Georges Bank shelters much of the Maine coast from a major tsunami threat. However, small but dangerous tsunami waves are possible. Strong currents generated by rapid and chaotic changes of water levels in the Gulf of Maine present the greatest threat to Maine. Inundation of land areas is possible at the time of high tide. However, this threat is not as severe in Maine as the threat of the fluctuation of water changes.


    The National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) in Palmer, Alaska, issues tsunami watches, warnings, and advisories for the East Coast. The Center monitors seismic activity throughout the world and determines the likelihood of tsunamis based on that activity.

    A tsunami watch is issued based on seismic information when a tsunami is possible for a particular location. The watch provides advance notification to areas that possibly could be impacted by a destructive tsunami, and the recommended action is to stay alert for more information. As more information becomes available, the watch may be changed to a warning or advisory, or cancelled. During a watch, the Tsunami Warning Center will issue updated information at least every hour.

    A tsunami advisory is issued when a tsunami with the potential to generate strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or very near the water is imminent, expected, or occurring. Inundation of land areas is not expected in the case of an advisory, though the advisory may be upgrade, downgraded, extended, or cancelled as appropriate. Recommended actions for those in an advisory area are get off beaches and to evacuate harbors and marinas if there is time to safely do so.

    A tsunami warning is issued when a tsunami with the potential to generate widespread inundation is imminent, expected, or occurring. In the case of a tsunami warning, it is recommended that local officials evacuate low lying areas and reposition ships to deeper waters when there is time to do so. Warnings may be updated, adjusted geographically, downgraded, or canceled.

    The National Tsunami Warning Center issues information statements to keep the public informed of seismic situations when a watch, warning, or advisory has been issued by the NTWS for another section of the ocean.

    During a tsunami event affecting the Gulf of Maine, the National Weather Services offices in Gray and Caribou will issue special weather statements that provide updated information on the event and its impact along the northern New England coast.


    Strong tsunami-generated currents along the coast and in the channels and bays of Maine present the greatest threat to those in the Gulf of Maine. Tsunamis generated in the Gulf of Maine are not likely to provide significant warning time. If water levels unexpectedly start to recede or increase or if strong currents unexpectedly develop, a tsunami has arrived. It is imperative to get off beaches and move away from the water's edge to higher ground immediately once this behavior of the tide is observed.

    There will likely be warning time if a distant event such as an earthquake in the Puerto Rican Trench is forecast to produce a tsunami in the Gulf of Maine. Once the tsunami waves reach the Gulf of Maine, keep distant from the water's edge. It is important to remember that during a tsunami event in the Gulf of Maine, water levels will fluctuate rapidly and chaotically and surge size can vary extensively long local areas in Maine. Do not approach the water's edge until emergency officials or the National Weather Service indicate that the dangerous conditions have subsided.

    Tsunami Brochure

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    Tsunami waves are generated by events that displace of water. This displacement can be caused by movement of the ocean floor, by underwater (or at the shoreline) landslides or land slumps, volcanic activity, large releases of gases from the ocean floor, atmospheric pressure waves, by a large meteorite or asteroid plunging into the ocean.

    Displacements of the ocean floor...

    Tsunami waves are often generated along fault lines in the earth's crust, typically in areas where the continental and oceanic plates are in compression. As a general rule, the continental plate rides over top of the oceanic plate. While the edges of both plates are engaged (not moving with respect to each other), the compressive forces that result from the overall plate movement causes tension to build up between the plates in the subduction zone. Eventually the increasing pressure causes the edges of the plates disengage, allowing the plates to shift. The earthquake that results from the fracturing and subsequent movement of the plates may produce a tsunami. Earthquakes can also generate a tsunami by causing subterranean landslides and land slumps, especially near the edge of the continental shelf.

    Movement of tsunami waves...

    Tsunami waves move rapidly across oceans one generated. The speed and height of the tsunami wave depends on the depth of the ocean floor. In areas of the Pacific where the ocean depth is 20,000 feet, tsunami waves are less than a foot high and move at speeds of about 550 mph - about the speed of a jet. The tsunami wave length can stretch nearly 100 miles and this large wavelength allows the tsunami to travel great distances while losing little energy. As the wave encounters shallower water the speed of a tsunami wave slows and the height increases. In about 300 feet of water, a tsunami wave will slow to about 60 mph and in 30 feet of water the wave will slow to 20 mph.

    When tsunami waves reach the coast...

    As a tsunami wave approaches the shallower depths near the coast, the speed of the wave slows and the height of the wave increases. The initial movement of water along the coast may either recede out to the sea or increase toward and onto the land. The recession of water toward the sea is strong indication that a powerful wave is approaching. If the tide is behaving in a way that it is not supposed to, or is otherwise unpredictable, a deadly tsunami wave may be imminent. If this is the case, leave the beach. It is also important to remember that tsunamis typically generate a series of waves and the first wave may not be the largest

    When a tsunami reaches shore, it may appear as a rapidly rising or falling tide, a series of breaking waves, or even a tidal bore. Reefs, bays, entrances to rivers, undersea features and the slope of the beach all help to modify the tsunami as it approaches the shore. While considerable attention is directed toward the flooding effects of the tsunami, much of the damage is due to the force generated by the rapid movement of water. Even in cases where no flooding of land occurs, the rapid movement of water in channels, bays, and harbors can cause considerable damage to boats, docks and marinas. In addition, the strong currents can become deadly and wash people out to sea.

    Tsunami Brochure

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    The 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Pacific Ocean Tsunamis have resulted in a wealth of online information on tsunamis. There are numerous videos that show the impact of tsunami waves, large and small. To find out more about tsunamis, please navigate to the following links:

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a general Tsunami Overview at:


    The Maine Geological Survey provides specific information on the tsunami threat in Atlantic Ocean and to the Gulf of Maine:


    Information on the National Tsunami Awareness Week and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Plan, including information on state hazard planning for tsunamis, is available at:


    The National Tsunami Center:



    While the National Weather Service does not endorse any of the links below, the links do provide video from the March 11, 2011 tsunami as the waves reached California. In particular, they demonstrate the speed of the current and the damage produced by the rapidly moving water.

    The link below shows a time lapse of a series of waves as they enter and recede from Crescent City Harbor in California.


    It is worth noting that one person was washed out to sea and is presumed dead by the strong currents near Crescent City.

    The following link shows the power of a small tsunami wave as it moves through Santa Cruz Harbor in California. Note that numerous people are putting their lives at risk in heading down to the harbor to watch the tsunami. When a tsunami comes, get away.


    Remember, if the waters along the coast unexpectedly start to rise or recede, move off the beach and away from the shoreline. Tsunamis can strike with the force of a raging river. Respect the power of water and move to higher ground.

    This information has been provided by the National Weather Service, Gray, Maine.

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    Do you work outside during the summer?

    For those who work outside during the summer, lightning is a potentially deadly threat. While summer is a good time to complete outside work, it is very important to work in a safe environment. Any time a thunderstorm is in the area, no place outside is safe. Between 2006 and 2017, 65 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States while at work. About two-thirds of those killed were farmers, ranchers, roofers, lawn care workers, or construction workers. Many of those killed were seeking shelter at the time of the deadly strike, but just hadn't started soon enough.

    When thunderstorms threaten, don't start anything you can't quickly stop. Pay attention to the daily forecasts so you know what to expect during the day. Also pay attention to early signs of thunderstorms: high winds, dark clouds, rain, distant thunder or lightning. If these conditions exist, do not start a task you cannot quickly stop. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike. Stop what you are doing and seek safety in a substantial building or a hard-topped metal vehicle. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

    Question of the day:

    • Q: What do I do if someone is struck by lightning?

    • A: Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available.

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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 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.
    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 only go to your car if it is safe to do so. 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

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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.

    For More Information

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    A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. The largest storms that result from these conditions are associated with solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) where a billion tons or so of plasma from the sun, with its embedded magnetic field, arrives at Earth. CMEs typically take several days to arrive at Earth, but have been observed, for some of the most intense storms, to arrive in as short as 18 hours.

    Storms also result in intense currents in the magnetosphere, changes in the radiation belts, and changes in the ionosphere, including heating the ionosphere and upper atmosphere region called the thermosphere. In space, a ring of westward current around Earth produces magnetic disturbances on the ground. A measure of this current, the disturbance storm time (Dst) index, has been used historically to characterize the size of a geomagnetic storm. In addition, there are currents produced in the magnetosphere that follow the magnetic field, called field-aligned currents, and these connect to intense currents in the auroral ionosphere. These auroral currents, called the auroral electrojets, also produce large magnetic disturbances. Together, all of these currents, and the magnetic deviations they produce on the ground, are used to generate a planetary disturbance index called Kp.

    During storms, the currents in the ionosphere, as well as the energetic particles that precipitate into the ionosphere add energy in the form of heat that can increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit. The local heating also creates strong horizontal variations in the in the ionospheric density that can modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS. While the storms create a beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines. An increase in the geomagnetic disturbance index called Kp is observed. This index is the basis for one of the three NOAA Space Weather Scales, the Geomagnetic Storm, or G-Scale, that is used to describe space weather that can disrupt systems on Earth.

    G-5 Extreme (Kp=9) These storms occur approximately 4 days over an 11 year cycle.

    Expected Effects:

    • Power systems: Widespread voltage control problems and protective system problems can occur, some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage.
    • Spacecraft operations: May experience surface charging and tracking problems, corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
    • Other systems: Pipeline currents can reach hundreds of amps, HF (high frequency) radio propagation may be impossible in many areas for one to two days, satellite navigation may be degraded for days, low-frequency radio navigation can be out for hours, and aurora has been seen as low as Florida and southern Texas (typically 40 geomagnetic lat.).

    G-4 Severe (Kp=8) These storms occur approximately 60 days over an 11 year cycle.

    Expected Effects:

    • Power systems: Possible widespread voltage control problems and some protective systems will mistakenly trip out key assets from the grid.
    • Spacecraft operations: May experience extensive surface charging, problems with orientation, uplink/downlink and tracking satellites.
    • Other systems: Induced pipeline currents affect preventive measures, HF radio propagation sporadic, satellite navigation degraded for hours, low-frequency radio navigation disrupted, and aurora has been seen as low as Alabama and northern California (typically 45 geomagnetic lat.).

    G-3 Strong (Kp=7) These storms occur approximately 130 days over an 11 year cycle.

    Expected Effects:

    • Power systems: Voltage corrections may be required, false alarms triggered on some protection devices.
    • Spacecraft operations: Surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
    • Other systems: Intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur, HF radio may be intermittent, and aurora has been seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (typically 50 geomagnetic lat.).

    G-2 Moderate (Kp=6) These storms occur approximately 360 days over an 11 year cycle.

    Expected Effects:

    • Power systems: High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms, long-duration storms may cause transformer damage.
    • Spacecraft operations: Corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control; possible changes in drag affect orbit predictions.
    • Other systems: HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes, and aurora has been seen as low as New York and Idaho (typically 55 geomagnetic lat.).

    G-1 Minor (Kp=5) These storms occur approximately 900 days over an 11 year cycle.

    Expected Effects:

    • Power systems: Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
    • Spacecraft operations: Minor impact on satellite operations possible.
    • Other systems: Migratory animals are affected at this and higher levels; aurora is commonly visible at high latitudes (northern Michigan and Maine).

    For More Information

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    The following is a list of resources to contact during a water shortage:

    Private Well Owners with Dry Wells

    Public Water Customers


    Agricultural Management Assistance (USDA)

    Conservation Stewardship Program (USDA)

    Environmental Quality Incentives Program (USDA)

    Small Business, Small Agricultural Cooperative and most private nonprofit organizations

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    An agricultural drought occurs when precipitation deficits, soil water deficits, reduced ground water, or reduced reservoir levels impact agricultural yields. The highest societal costs of drought are the hazard’s impact on agriculture. If severe enough, agricultural drought can cause widespread food insecurity and severe economic strain on farmers. The agricultural impacts of drought are wide known, dating to the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and prior. Resultantly, one of the earliest indices to monitor drought – the Palmer Drought Severity Index – was created as a tool for agricultural purposes.

    Preventative investments to improve irrigation efficiency can be made to mitigate the effects of drought as they arrive.

    There are also farm insurance options for farmers to lessen their vulnerability to drought and other natural hazards.

    For Farmers in need of assistance

    The following resources may be available for qualifying farmers

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    FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is an internet-based capability Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local authorities can use to issue critical public alerts and warnings.

    During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is a modernization and integration of the nation’s alert and warning infrastructure and will save time when time matters most, protecting life and property. Watch a video on IPAWS.

    Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local alerting authorities can use IPAWS and integrate local systems that use Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standards with the IPAWS infrastructure. IPAWS provides public safety officials with an effective way to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies using the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and other public alerting systems from a single interface.

    FEMA built IPAWS to ensure that under all conditions the President of the United States can alert and warn the American people. Federal, State, territorial, tribal and local authorities also have the opportunity to use IPAWS to send alerts and warnings within their jurisdictions. IPAWS improves alert and warning capabilities by allowing alerting authorities to deliver alerts simultaneously through multiple communications devices reaching as many people as possible to save lives and protect property. These communication pathways include:

    The system is capable of adding other pathways as they are developed.

    WEAs, in particular, generate tremendous interest among alerting authorities that wish to send geographically targeted alerts via wireless cell broadcasts. Through a partnership between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), FEMA, and commercial mobile service providers, alerting authorities are able to send WEAs, even when cellular networks are overloaded and can no longer support person-to-person calls, texts, or emails. Many commercial mobile service providers sell WEA-capable phones with the service already opted-in so that the public does not need to sign up to receive the alerts. WEAs do not incur charges for the alerting authority sending the message or the individual receiving the WEA. It should be noted that commercial mobile service providers are not required to provide this service other than the presidential alerts, so this service may not be available in all areas.

    The State of Maine uses the IPAWS system to send out monthly test messages. These are not sent out over the WEA system as this system is only used for actual alerts. Maine has a strict set of thresholds regarding when alert messages are sent. Maine typically only uses IPAWS for monthly testing, however the system is ready if needed. Currently, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Maine State Police and several county emergency management agencies have approval to send IPAWS alerts when necessary.

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    During the holidays, the stores become filled with holiday shoppers, but they’re not the only ones hoping to score some deals. Thieves are out too hoping to steal your money and gifts. Some basic steps citizens can take to prevent or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of assault, robbery and car break-in when shopping during the holiday season, and all year long:

    How can I protect my belongings and money?

    • Keep all purses and bags zipped and snapped closed.
    • Do not flash large amounts of cash when paying for merchandise.
    • Keep cash in front pockets and don’t keep wallets in a back pocket where a pick-pocket could grab it.
    • If using a debit card, keep the card close to your body so the card number will not be able to be photographed by a cell phone.
    • Always shop with a buddy, you are less of a target when you have someone with you.
    • If you have to take a phone call or text message – don’t let your guard down and get distracted while shopping.
    • Let someone know where you are going and what time you may be returning.
    • If using a shopping cart, try to secure your purse or bags with the child locking system.
    • Do not carry large amounts of merchandise at one time.
    • Do not carry your social security card or birth certificate in your wallet or purse.
    • Carry only a few credit cards at one time.
    • When you go shopping, make frequent trips to your vehicle to get rid of shopping bags. This will prevent you from having your arms full of bags when you are done shopping.
    • Do not leave valuables in plain view in your car.

    What should I do if I see something suspicious?

    • If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, contact security or local law enforcement. Call 911 if it is an emergency or a crime is being committed.

    How can I protect myself?

    • Before leaving your home, make sure your cell phone is charged and your car is in good working condition.
    • If you typically keep your cell phone in a bag, keep your cell phone on your person in case someone steals your purse.
    • Work on a buddy system. When you are out shopping or jogging, have a buddy with you at all times.
    • Park in a well-lit parking lot.
    • Get your keys out before you get to your car.
    • Always lock your doors when you are driving or not.
    • When returning to your car, look under, in and around your car while approaching it.
    • Be aware of your surroundings. When you are in a building, know where your exits are located as well as how you will plan to escape if needed.
    • Be suspicious and aware by nature. If you get a gut feeling that something is not right, then act on your instinct.
    • Be confident and look people in the eyes. If you do this you are more likely to keep an attacker from attacking you. You will be able to give identifying characteristics of the person.
    • Take a self-defense class.

    How should I protect my children?

    • Keep children secure in a stroller or shopping cart at all times. Do not allow your children to wander.
    • Speak with your children about a plan if you were separated while shopping.
    • Prepare a family plan that consists of distress signals or code words.

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    There are many reasons for gathering a large crowd whether it is a parade, concert, protest, holiday celebration or community fair. Before attending a large-scale event it’s important to take some steps to prepare to ensure the safety of you and others around you.

    Before the Event

    • Keep an eye on the weather forecast; if dangerous weather is predicted, stay home.
    • Apply sunblock and wear a hat if the event is outside on a sunny day
    • Drink lots of water and avoid extended periods in the sun if the event is outside in the heat; dress warmly and in layers if it is outside in the cold
    • Arrive early and identify the exits and landmarks
    • Identify the location of the first aid station and security
    • If you are with a group, communicate with them about safety precautions
    • Exchange phone numbers with those in your group
    • Be sure cell phones are charged ahead of time
    • Identify a meeting place if you are separated from your group
    • Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer; being surrounded by people means being surrounded by germs

    During the Event

    • Stay aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t become so absorbed in the event that you miss potential danger signs
    • Instruct children to hold your hand
    • Make sure you have enough space and identify an escape route
    • Stay clear of intoxicated or suspicious acting people
    • Don’t panic in a crowded area, staying calm will help you think more clearly
    • If you sense danger, go home
    • If You See Something, Say Something: Report suspicious activity such as an unattended backpack, individuals acting suspiciously around the entrances to an event location or unusual or bulky clothing that is inconsistent with the weather by contacting local law enforcement or calling 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.

    After the Event

    • Follow the crowd when exiting the venue; you will face resistance if you try to go in the opposite direction and may risk a stampede
    • If you fall down and the crowd doesn’t stop moving, curl yourself into a ball to avoid bodily injuries
    • Leave before the event ends to avoid the rush; if you must stay until the end, wait in a safe area and let the crowd pass

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    The If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign is a public awareness campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to raise public awareness about terrorism and the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local authorities.

    • Local communities and citizens play an important role in preventing terrorism and keeping our communities safe.
    • The public should report suspicious activity such as the discovery of a suspicious package or suspicious behavior, such as someone breaking into a restricted area, attempting to gain access into a restricted area, or making suspicious purchases of precursor chemicals.
    • Suspicious activity does not include factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
    • Anyone who sees suspicious activity in Maine is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or 9-1-1 in case of an emergency or if a crime is in progress.

    How did the campaign get started?

    • The campaign and slogan was developed by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority who licensed the slogan to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for anti-terrorism efforts.
    • The campaign was launched in conjunction with the US Department of Justice’s Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative-a national database for gathering and analyzing suspicious activity.

    Why Maine?

    • Maine has a small population, but a large geographic area to protect, including 611 miles of international border and more than 3,000 miles of coastline. The goal is to have the eyes and ears of all citizens alert, paying attention to their surroundings and reporting anything suspicious.
    • Two of the 9-11 terrorists spent a day in Maine, then traveled through the Portland International Jetport, to Boston and hijacked American Airlines Flight 11.
    • There have been a number of other cases where refugees have illegally crossed the border into Maine, including a Rwandan fugitive charged with war crimes and a Palestinian charged with aiding and abetting terrorist activity.

    What is the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Initiative?

    • The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) is a joint collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners.
    • This initiative provides law enforcement with another tool to help prevent terrorism and other related criminal activity by establishing a national capacity for gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing, and sharing SAR information.

    What is considered suspicious activity?

    • Suspicious activity may include an unusual interest in gaining sensitive information about facility security, operations, or maintenance.
    • An unattended bag or backpack.
    • Suspicious purchases of items that could be used to construct an explosive device, including hydrogen peroxide, acetone, gasoline, propane, or ammonium nitrate fertilizers.
    • Theft of explosive materials.
    • Theft of security personnel uniforms or credentials
    • Attempted or unauthorized access to rooftops or other potentially sensitive areas.
    • Individuals acting suspiciously around the entrances to an event location.
    • Unusual or bulky clothing that is inconsistent with the weather.

    What information should I report?

    • Who or what you saw
    • When you saw it
    • Where it occurred
    • Why it's suspicious

    What happens when I call to report suspicious activity?

    • If you call 9-1-1, or your local law enforcement agency non-emergency number, your local law enforcement agency will handle the call and, if warranted, they will provide the information to the Maine Information and Analysis Center (MIAC) or FBI into the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting System.
    • The MIAC is part of a national network of Fusion centers that coordinates information with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners. If warranted, they will enter the information into the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting System.
    • Only reports that document behavior that is reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism will be shared with federal partners.

    How do I know if my report will be taken seriously?

    • State and local law enforcement agencies are trained to recognize behaviors and indicators of terrorism and terrorism–related crime. If you are unsure, call and discuss your concern.
    • It the information you provide indicates suspicious activity, a suspicious activity report will be generated by the law enforcement agency.
    • Suspicious activity includes behavior not appearance and does not include factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.

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    Why do Christmas trees pose a safety risk?

    • Tree Dryness; be sure to water them well
    • Electrical malfunctions with lights
    • They are located near heat sources

    How can you prevent a Christmas tree fire?

    A Christmas tree will not start a fire all by itself, so on its own, it’s not dangerous. It will ignite quickly and can become completely engulfed in flames in as little as 60 seconds. A quarter of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical issues; heat sources account for another quarter. Other causes include sparks, flames, embers and cigarettes.

    Even if you have an artificial tree, it doesn’t mean it can’t catch fire. Overloaded sockets can also cause them to burn, even if they are fire resistant, so be sure to turn the lights off at night or when you leave.

    • Pick a tree that doesn’t quickly shed its needles; make sure the needles are vibrant green
    • Cut two inches from the base before placing the tree in a stand; it will help it absorb water
    • Locate the tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights
    • Make sure the base is filled with water at all times
    • Make sure your indoor and outdoor holiday lights have been lab tested for safety; throw out damaged lights (Lights are cheap; it’s not worth risking a fire by using old or damaged lights!)
    • Lights used outdoors must be labeled suitable for outdoor use; be sure to plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle
    • Keep holiday candles away from trees, furniture and decor
    • Turn the lights off at night and when you leave your home. Lights and cords could become hot and cause a fire
    • When your tree starts to drop needles, it’s time to take it out
    • Extension cords can create hazards; if you must use an extension cord, don’t over load it or electrical outlets

    Additional safety measures:

    • Make sure you have smoke alarms in good working order
    • Have a fire extinguisher nearby
    • Don’t place your tree so that it blocks an exit

    After Christmas

    • Get rid of your tree; don’t leave it near your home or in a garage, it’s a fire hazard
    • Take down outdoor lights; they will last longer and it will prevent damage

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    Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber incidents. Cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend. Among these dangers are viruses erasing entire computer systems, intruders breaking into computer systems and altering files, intruders using your computer or device to harm others, or intruders stealing confidential information. The spectrum of cyber risks is limitless. Follow the tips below to improve your personal cyber hygiene:

    Keep a Clean Machine

    • Keep Security Software Current: Having the most up-to-date software is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

    • Automate Software Updates: Turn on automatic software updates if that’s an available option.

    • Protect all Devices that Connect to the Internet: Devices like smart phones, gaming systems, and other web devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

    • Plug & Scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

    Protect Your Personal Information

    • Secure Your Accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Two-Factor authentication is now offered by account providers as an additional means of protection.

    • Make Passwords Long and Strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

    • Unique Account, Unique Password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

    • Own Your Online Presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing.

    Connect With Care

    • When in Doubt Throw it Out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising: If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete.

    • Get Savvy About Wi-Fi Hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.

    • Protect Your $$: When banking and shopping, use caution. Look for web addresses with “https://,” ensuring the “s” is there which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information.

    Be Web Wise

    • Stay Current: Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues.

    • Think Before You Act: Be wary of communications that require you to act immediately, sound too good to be true, or ask for personal information.

    • Back It Up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

    • Help the Authorities Fight Cybercrime: Report stolen finances, identities and cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and The Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft.gov .

    For More Information

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