Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Blizzard Season

Well, Mainers - we've made it through our first real snowstorm of the season. A blizzard or Nor'Easter as it were. Since Winter has only just begun, there are almost certainly several more inches of the white stuff to come in our near future. With snow falling at such a rapid rate as it did the past couple of days, your homes can quickly become covered and this in turn can lead to very dangerous outcomes. 

Local police and fire departments are urging residents to BE SURE to keep furnace and other utility vents clear of snow. When snow is falling at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour, it can quickly build up on surfaces of your home. When a furnace can't breathe, it isn't safe.

It is important to devise a plan to remove all snow and ice from your home's exterior vents and utilities in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. When snow blows against a house, it can block vents, therefore making it so that carbon monoxide has nowhere to go and is ultimately trapped in the house. Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because you can't see, smell or taste the deadly gas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of very important post-blizzard safety measures, including:

  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. 

For more information on this potentially fatal element of extreme snowstorms, please visit:

Space Heater Safety

Now that Winter (and chilly conditions) is in full swing, Mainers are looking for ways to safely heat our homes. Space heaters, commonly used portable heating devices, are great alternatives to expensive or inefficient central heating systems. These small heating units are capable of raising the temperature in a room without also simultaneously overheating an entire home.

While space heaters are cost-effective and practical, they come with several potential dangers/risks. When thinking about heating your home using one of these devices, please consider the following buying/installing safety guidelines via the US Department of Energy:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in 300 deaths and countless hospital visits to treat burns. To avoid becoming one of these statistics, it is critical to follow the aforementioned safety advice when heating your home with a portable heater.

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein wishes you a safe and hopefully warm Winter season. 

Extreme Cold Spell Strikes Maine

Maine, like most of New England, is currently in the midst of an extreme cold spell that should be ending this weekend. Temperatures have dropped to subzero levels today along most of the state, and heavy wind chills have contributed to unsafe driving conditions.

As a result of these freezing conditions, Maine drivers are experiencing dead car batteries that require jumpstarts, as well as frozen fuel lines. AAA advises motorists to keep their cars in the garage to avoid exposure to the severe climate. In addition, drivers should try to keep their gas tank at least half full during this icy period to prevent condensation from building in the tanks. 

The National Weather Service reported that Portland's low temperature of -9 degrees this morning was second only to the record low of -16 degrees in 1942. The NWS's temperature report also determined that inland areas were colder than those towns that are located along the coast. 

Meteorologists believe that temperatures will hopefully start to climb back into the 20's and 30's this weekend. 

Stay safe and as warm as possible, everyone!

'Veterans Helping Veterans' Program Forges Connections and Friendships

Launched last February, Maine-based project 'Veterans Helping Veterans' has paired young and elderly veterans together to bond through shared experiences and stories from their military service. 

According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, the program, which benefits veterans in York and Cumberland counties, has received positive feedback and is looking to expand its impact and reach by adding more volunteers. 

The program, developed by Americorps VISTA volunteer Susan Gold for the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, connects veterans together to spend time with one another and ultimately form a friendship. The project is a heartwarming and meaningful initiative that is strongly rooted in values of compassion and companionship. 

Gold's objective for the program is for these partnerships to successfully fulfill the SMAA's mission of providing outreach and resources that will allow elderly people to live in their homes for as long as possible.

Those who volunteer to be involved in 'Veterans Helping Veterans' receive training on how to tell if the veteran they are visiting has access to proper nutrition, medical care and transportation services if needed. Through the program is independently run, employees regularly communicate with Maine Veterans Services in order to learn of people who may benefit from the visitation experience. 

In addition, the program has employed mental health experts and trainers to keep a close eye on the partnerships and be vigilant of any veterans who may be suffering from symptoms of depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Amy Marcotte, a mental health professional on staff with 'Veterans Helping Veterans' told the Portland Press Herald that "Soldiers tend to feel responsible to their country and one another, and programs like this are a really nice outlet to fulfill that. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for meaningful service to their military brothers and sisters."

If you are interested in volunteering for the program, or want to learn more about the wonderful work and service these veterans do for each other, please contact Susan Gold at 396-6521 or

Federal Appeals Court Rejects LePage's Efforts to Eliminate Medicaid Coverage for Young Mainers

Last month, a federal appeals court rejected Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage's attempt to deny certain young adults Medicaid access. 

In its decision, The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that such a move would violate the Affordable Care Act, a "patient's bill of rights that gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed decisions about their health." 

Governor LePage, a critic of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, had previously proposed eliminating Medicaid coverage for 6,000 non-disabled 19-and-20-year-olds fin an effort to balance the budget. 

The LePage Administration, which wants to cut $220 million in overall healthcare spending, argued that cutting Medicaid rolls in the state would have saved Maine $3.7 million. 

LePage has been quoted as saying that he expects the state's fight with the federal government on this issue to eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

For more information on the Medicaid Program and Affordable Care Act, please visit: and 

Graco Recalling 11 Stroller Models Due to Fingertip Amputation Risk

The Consumer Product Safey Commission has announced that 11 different models of Graco Strollers are being recalled due to the risk of fingertip amputation.  Included in the recall are strollers manufactured between August of 2000 and September of 2014.  To determine whether a stroller is subject to the recall, owners should check the model number and date of manufacture of their stroller. This information can be found on a white label located at the bottom of the stroller leg just above the rear wheel.

According to the CPSC's resport, "The folding hinge on the sides of the stroller can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard." The report also says that Graco has received 11 reports of stroller-related finger injuries, with six reports of fingertip amputation, four partial-fingertip amputations, and one finger laceration.

Graco is offering a free repair kit to owners of the affected strollers. The kits will be available in early December. In the meantime, extreme care should be used when unfolding the stroller and placing a child in the stroller seat.

Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Further information about this recall is available at

Laundry Detergent Pods Dangerous for Children

A recent study conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that from 2012 through 2013, U.S. Poison Control centers received reports of 17,230 children younger than age 6 being exposed to chemicals in laundry detergents. This exposure was the result of swallowing or inhalation. As a result of ingesting these dangerous chemicals, 769 young children had to be hospitalized. 

In response to reports that many children still are being injured by ingesting pre-measured laundry detergent packets, the American Cleaning Institute has provided information about the safe handling and storage of these packets. The ACI recommends the following steps:

1. The packets should be stored out of reach and out of sight of children

2. The packets should be stored in their original containers or pouches until ready to be used

3. Children should not be allowed to handle the pre-measured laundry detergent packets

The detergent contained In the pods is highly concentrated, much more so than detergent in the more traditional bottled liquid detergent.  Children who ingest even small amounts of detergent in one of these pods can be seriously injured and require immediate medical treatment.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Celebrated in Maine

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mainers everywhere have been doing their part to raise awareness and contribute to fundraising efforts. 

Komen Maine, our state's Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate, raised more than $200,000 through their signature Race for the Cure events that were held in Portland and Bangor. The races drew more than 3,600 walkers, more than 220 volunteers and were sponsored by WCSH 6 and WLBZ 2.

For more information on the events, Komen Maine's mission and/or to make a donation to their research endeavors, please visit:

Another signature fundraising effort in Maine, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, took place in four locations, including: Cape Elizabeth, Brunswick, Damariscotta and Kittery. Funds raised from these walks will help to support the American Cancer Society's efforts to help research, treat, cure breast cancer and also ensure access to regular mammograms. 

Diversified Ink, a tattoo shop in Bangor, selected 28 breast cancer survivors to receive complimentary pink ribbon tattoos to commemorate and honor the survivors' personal stories, experiences and battles. Candidates for the free body ink selected from 10 different artwork designs that will serve as a permanent reminder of their journeys. 

For more information on breast cancer education, awareness and fundraising events throughout Maine, please visit the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition's website:

Airbag Recall: NHTSA Releases Updated List of Affected Vehicles

The U.S. Government has expanded a recent massive airbag recall to now include nearly 8 million vehicles. As part of this product recall, auto safety agency officials are urging drivers to have their airbags repaired due to potential dangers to drivers and passengers. 

The aforementioned faulty airbags are at risk for rupturing due to faulty inflator mechanisms made by Japanese supplier Takata Corporation. This in turn can cause dangerous metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed.  

This highly dangerous malfunction has already contributed to four deaths in the United States, and safety officials have estimated that 20 million vehicles could eventually be affected by this problem. 

On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an updated warning list of cars and trucks included in this recall. These vehicles include: 

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia, 2003-2005 Toyota Tundra 

Maine Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Medical Marijuana

Under a recent change to the medical marijuana law in Maine, nurse practitioners are now permitted to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from certain medical conditions. Before this change in the law, only physicians were allowed to prescribe medical marijuana in Maine.

Physicians and nurse practitioners are permitted to recommend marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions approved by the State, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, and post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 6th, the Department of Health and Human Services held a public hearing on the issue of whether Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) should be added as a qualifying condition for the medical use of marijuana.

A patient who has been legally certified by their treating provider (physician or nurse practitioner) will be allowed to grow their own marijuana for medicinal purposes, or to obtain marijuana from a marijuana dispensary. Certification requires that a patient has had a continuous relationship with their medical provider for at least six months prior to the certification.

The law does not permit medical providers to assist a patient with obtaining, cultivating, or using the marijuana.

Advocates of medical marijuana believe that the new law will be of particular help to rural Mainers, many of whom treat with nurse practitioners, not physicians.

It is important to note that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, despite its legalization in many states. Because of this conflict in the laws, there may still be many medical providers who are reluctant to recommend marijuana to their patients.

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