Important Health Precautions to Take After the Storm

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, even days after the storms have ended.

Mississippi residents should take the following special precautions against health risks after the storm:

Mold and Mildew

Stagnant moisture can be an ideal source for mold growth – all it needs is a source of moisture, a place to grow, and food sources such as leaves, wood, paper or dirt. When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers, they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems for people. Exposure to high spore levels can cause the development of an allergy to the mold.

If mold is a problem in your home, you need to clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture. Identify and correct the moisture source; clean, disinfect with bleach, then dry the moldy area; and then bag and dispose any material that has moldy residues, such as rags, paper, leaves or debris.

The MSDH neither regulates nor tests for mold. You should contact a commercial environmental consulting firm for services related to mold.

Boil Water Alerts

Many public water systems in Mississippi are still 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.

Tetanus Information

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.

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