Health department reminders for victims of severe weather

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) continues to monitor the health impacts of recent severe weather. Significant power outages, home repairs, and flooding can create dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations.

Personal Protection

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.

Carbon Monoxide

MSDH recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide 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, 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.

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.

Boil Water Alerts

Many public water systems in Mississippi are under boil water notices. If your system is under a boil water alert:

  • Do not drink tap water.
  • Do not use ice made from recent tap water.
  • Do not use tap water to make drinks, juices, or fountain soft drinks.
  • Cook with tap water ONLY if food is boiled for at least one minute.
  • Wash dishes, fruits and vegetables in boiled water or water that has been disinfected with bleach. Using your home dishwasher is not recommended.
  • Brush your teeth with boiled or bottled water.
  • Wash your hands and bathe as usual. Bathing is safe as long as no water is swallowed.
  • Wash laundry as usual. Laundry washed in hot or cold water is safe.

Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute to kill most organisms.

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 www.HealthyMS.com/wells.

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