Steven Wallace

Steven Wallace

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: ’Tis the season to be jolly, and in general, jolly in the Wallace household means lots of great food, games, company and the ambiance of a fire burning brightly in our pot-bellied propane stove.

This past weekend, however, I was reminded how easily jolly can become tragedy when one of my friends was overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning; the event killed his family pet and almost cost him his life.

My friend is a really smart guy and makes very informed decisions. He’s calm and deliberative — I’m jealous of that at times — and genuinely does the right things for the right reasons. So when I say carbon monoxide poisoning is indiscriminant to race, college education, marital status, religion or social placement, please believe me.



Also believe that if you have a propane, gas, chimney or woodstove in your home (or in the case of a generator, outside your home), and you don’t take precautions, a simple leak or blockage can and will kill you and the ones you love.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 15,000 people each year are treated in emergency rooms for non-firerelated carbon monoxide exposures. And an average of about 500 people die each year from non-fire-related carbon monoxide exposures.

What measures can you take to ensure you don’t become a statistic? I have two simple suggestions.

First, if you have a chimney, propane stove, old furnace, or anything that could potentially leak poisonous gas into your air supply, get it checked and cleaned.

How often chimney/stove cleaning should be done depends on who you ask. At the very least a cleaning can be done after a cord of wood has been burned. A yearly inspection will reveal your chimney’s condition and is necessary for both health and safety reasons. Cleaning your chimney on a regular basis will help to keep your home free of allergens.

The buildup of dirt and creosote will also be prevented. Dirt can block your chimney’s flue, causing smoke to back up into your home and make your fireplace noxious. Excessive creosote can potentially ignite and cause an uncontrolled fire hazard.

Second, you should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home if you have any appliances that are not electric and that burn natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood, coal or other fuels, or if you have a home with an attached garage.

None of us would think about having a home without fire detectors installed in this day and age; I submit to you, you should feel the same way about carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so without a CO detector, it can build up in your home without you knowing. Depending on the degree of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, vomiting, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, light-headedness, sleepiness, loss of muscle control, confusion, and blurred vision.

If you feel any of these symptoms, get out of the house and call 911.

By taking a few precautions, you can help ensure your family doesn’t go through what my friends have. If you have questions or safety concerns about anything I have written above, call the fire department, 2-1-1 (Maine Info), or call a certified installer/ cleaner for chimneys and fireplaces.

If you don’t know of anyone in these categories, check out the chamber’s website at; look under “professional services” in our business directory.

In closing, I hope each and every one of you has a great Thanksgiving day with your family, friends and loved ones. Please do me a favor and cheer for the Detroit Lions during Thursday’s game — they really, really need the help this year — and remember to support your local businesses by shopping local for the remainder of the holiday season.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Back by popular demand is a Business Success Seminar “How to Write, Grow and Sustain a Blog” Tuesday, Nov. 27, 5 to 7 p.m., at Priority Group Business Center, 2 Main St., Topsham. The presenter is Jennifer Barbour. Registration is required by going to

Byrnes Hospitality Group hosts the Wednesday, Nov. 28 Chamber After Hours. Come to Byrnes Irish Pub, Station Avenue, Brunswick, anytime from 5 to 7 p.m. Make use of the networking power of the SMMC. Enjoy refreshments, cash bar and door prize drawings. This event is free to attend. Please register.

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