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.
MSDH residents should take the following precautions:
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.
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.
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. Tetanus vaccinations are available at all county health departments.
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.
If you come in contact with a snake during cleanup efforts, do not attempt to catch or kill the snake. Slowly back away from the snake. If you are bitten by a snake:
- Do not attempt to cut, suck, or apply ice to the bite area.
- Do not apply a tourniquet.
- Call 911 immediately. Lay the person flat and keep the bitten part of the body at the level of the rest of the body. Do not elevate or dangle a bitten arm or leg.
- According to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, there is plenty of antivenin available should it be needed.