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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > From the Director: November. Take Stock for Winter

From the Director: November. Take Stock for Winter


November 9, 2009


November is that month in Maine when most of us really begin to focus on getting ready for winter. We’re making sure we have firewood, and that the storm windows are up. Many Mainers carry on a hunting tradition and fill their freezers with venison or other game. But with the first cold weather also come safety hazards. Already this season we have seen home fires as wood stoves are used for the first time.

Winter hazards don’t have to become emergencies if we work on making our homes, businesses and communities safer. Many of these practical steps are things we know about perfectly well but think “I’ll take care of that tomorrow.” Let’s make that “today,” instead.”

Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms:

  • If you didn’t check your batteries when you turned the clocks back, do it now. And if you don’t have these life-saving detectors, install them now.
  • Have a professional inspect and clean your chimney:
  • Some fire departments may also check your chimney as a courtesy

Test your generator:

  • If you are fortunate enough to have a generator, check fuel and oil levels, and test it. Review all generator safety precautionsRemember, never operate a generator in a basement or attached garage.
  • If you are considering getting a generator, have an electrician prepare the connections so you can operate it safely.

Get your car ready for winter

  • Always keep an emergency kit in your car.
  • Make sure your car is “winterized”: snow tires, winter wipers, and anything else your mechanic recommends.
  • Brush up on winter driving techniques

Update your “winter contacts list”

  • Make a list of the emergency numbers for your power utility, oil or gas company, telephone company and other essential contacts. Keep a list next to every phone.
  • If you have a cell phone, program these and other emergency numbers into your phone. (If you don’t have a cell phone, but would like to get one for emergency use, check out the Maine Public Advocate’s information on service and price options

Burn wood safely

The Maine Wood to Energy Initiative has a whole library of information about the use and storage of firewood, safe operation of wood stoves and a wealth of other information that will help keep you warm and safe this winter.

Help others

The tips above are a good starting point for all of us who can afford them, or have the ability to “do it yourself.” But we all know those who are not as fortunate.

If you or someone you know needs help to stay safe and warm this winter,

If you are a business owner:

Consider allowing your employees the flexibility to volunteer some time to help others. As we move into winter, there may be organized efforts in your community to weatherize homes, or make home visits. Volunteer opportunities can always be found at: VolunteerMaine

For public officials:

Many towns in Maine have established local fuel assistance funds, or welcomed residents to a warming center at the town office, fire station or library. Others offer a service to check on seniors and those with disabilities on a regular basis. Often, what is needed is a referral to one of the programs noted above. And sometimes, all that is needed is a “listening ear.”

Winter in Maine is always a challenge

This year as winter approaches we also continue to deal with the very serious H1N1 flu outreak, as I wrote about last month. More than ever, we must work together to ensure we can meet whatever challenges this winter brings.

Please, contact me, and let me know your thoughts.


Rob McAleer, Director, Maine Emergency Management Agency



Last update: 07/20/10