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CKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) continues to monitor the path of Hurricane Ida. Significant power outages, home repairs, and flooding could create dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations.
MSDH residents should take the following precautions:
Food and Water Safety
If your power is out, there are several food and water safety tips to follow to ensure what you eat and drink is safe for consumption:
- If power is out for less than two hours, food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to eat. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold longer.
- After two hours, a freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours.
- After two hours, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
- Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water. Watch for specific boil water alerts in your area.
- Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash, and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. If possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added.
- Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms.
MSDH recommends the following precautions to help prevent potentially fatal carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent, or fireplace. Do not use gas-powered generators or pressure washers in enclosed spaces including indoors or in the garage. If you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning, such as dizziness, headache or shortness of breath, open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and go outside. In cases of severe CO poisoning, call 911 emergency services or the Mississippi Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
When cleaning up storm-damaged areas, be sure to wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes to prevent cuts and scratches from debris. Do not let children play in floodwater and discard any items that come into contact with floodwater.
Any food (including food in plastic or glass), medicines, cosmetics or bottled water that has come in contact with floodwater should be discarded. If in doubt, throw it out. Intact cans may be thoroughly disinfected with one-quarter cup of bleach to one gallon of water, and then used.
Around Your Home
When cleaning up debris around your home, be sure ladders are secure before climbing on them to clean the roof and gutters. If you plan to use a chainsaw to clear debris, be sure to operate the machine according to the instructions. If injury occurs, call 9-1-1 or seek immediate medical help.
Flooding can cause mold to grow inside your home, which can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems. MSDH does not handle mold removal or abatement. You will need to call a private contractor for further assistance.
Tetanus vaccination is recommended if it’s been 10 years or more since your last tetanus vaccination (Tdap is the recommended vaccine). In the event of a puncture wound or wound contaminated with floodwater, individuals should consult a healthcare provider.
Disinfecting Private Water Wells
Homeowners impacted by flooding who do not receive their water supply from a public water system regulated by the MSDH should have their private well inspected, disinfected and sampled in order to protect their health. For step-by-step instructions on disinfecting your private water well, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/wells.
Vibrio vulnificus bacteria naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.
Vibrio bacteria naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.
Vibrio vulnificus can cause life-threatening wound infections. Many people with Vibrio vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputations, and about 1 in 5 people with this infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill
Anyone can get a Vibrio wound infection, but some individuals are more likely to get infection and have severe complications:
- Have liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV, or thalassemia
- Receive immune-suppressing therapy for the treatment of disease
- Take medicine to decrease stomach acid levels
- Have had recent stomach surgery
- Individuals at higher risk for infections and severe complications from Vibrio bacteria should avoid wading or standing in brackish or saltwater.
How can I prevent a Vibrio wound infection if I have a wound?
You can reduce your chance of getting a Vibrio wound infection by following these tips:
- If you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), stay out of saltwater or brackish water, if possible.
- Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if it could come into contact with saltwater or brackish water. This can happen when a hurricane or storm surge causes flooding.
- Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after they have contact with saltwater, brackish water, raw seafood, or its juices.
Seek medical attention immediately if you develop signs and symptoms of Vibrio infection, which can include:
- Watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever
- For bloodstream infection: fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions
- For wound infection, which may spread to the rest of the body: fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge (leaking fluids).
Flooding can result in excessive breeding of mosquitoes, resulting in the possibility of diseases such as West Nile virus being carried by the insects.
Protective measures include:
- Wear long-sleeved, long-legged clothing with socks and shoes outdoor when practical;
- Use mosquito repellant with DEET; follow label instructions; products with up to 35 percent DEET will provide adequate protection under most conditions;
- Use repellent with 10 percent or less concentration of DEET on children as recommended by the Academy of Pediatrics; follow label directions;
- Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient such as DEET while you are outdoors; and
- Avoid mosquitoes whenever possible; stay indoors or take personal protective measures, especially between dusk and dawn.
For more information on safety after a storm, visit HealthyMS.com/afterstorm.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
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