Health dept. offers food, water tips following power outage

As the electrical power is being or has been restored after the recent storms, the Texas County Health Department urges county residents to use caution.

“People should avoid eating food that has potentially become contaminated during the power outages that have recently occurred in the area,” says Carolyn Bell, public health nurse.

Bell also encourages residents to be sure they are protected against tetanus. Tetanus booster shots should be given every 10 years, and are available at the health department at no charge.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends some food items that have been out of temperature or in contact with floodwater be discarded.

-Discard food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

-Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours or more.

-Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below can be refrozen or cooked.

-Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.

-Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles), twist caps, flip tops, snap-open, and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater because they cannot be disinfected.

-If cans have come in contact with flood water or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Relabel the cans with a marker.

-Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.

Other items that should be discarded if they have come in contact with floodwater include:

-Large soft items that have been in contact with water for two or more days, such as couches, chairs, mattresses and carpet. Even though you cannot see it, mold is growing on these items. People who are sensitive to mold may experience nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing or skin irritation. People with severe allergies to mold or with chronic lung illness may experience more severe reactions, including fever, shortness of breath or mold infection in their lungs.

-Plastic items like kitchen utensils, plates, dishes, Tupperware and baby bottle nipples.

-Kitchen utensils that are wooded or have cracks, such as wooden spoons and cutting boards.

-Leather or paper products.

-Garden produce.

-Medicines and cosmetics.

Some items may be successfully cleaned.

-Bedding and other soft items should be washed in hot water with bleach.

-Children’s toys, utensils, dishware and small items with hard surfaces should be washed with soap and water and then disinfected by immersing for one minute in a solution of four tablespoons of bleach to two gallons of water.

-Pots and pans can be sterilized by boiling them for at least ten minutes.

-Items that a baby may put in his mouth should be boiled.

-Items that are too large to immerse, or surfaces like walls, decking and doors should be washed with soap and water and then wiped down with a solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water.

For more information contact the health department at 417-967-4131.

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