JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) are encouraging Mississippians to stay safe after the Wednesday, April 14 severe storm. Power outages, home repairs and flooding can create dangerous and life-threatening situations after a storm.

MSDH leaders provided special precautions to avoid health risks after a storm.

Food-Borne Disease:

  • Throw away all fresh food including fruits, vegetables and other produce that can be submerged.
  • Throw away all screw cap or crimp cap containers that can be submerged.
  • Throw away any cold or cool food that warmed. Food that is still frozen or cold (45° or less) is safe to prepare.
  • Do not eat any food that’s come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges.
  • Commercially prepared cans of food should not be eaten if there is a bulging or opening in the can.
  • Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels and disinfect the cans with a bleach solution. use 1/4 a cup of bleach in one gallon of water. Relabel cans with the expiration date and type of food. Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.
  • If you’re not breastfeeding, infants should be fed only canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Use boiled water when preparing formula.

Floodwater and Drinking Water Safety:

  • If you notice any loss or significant drop in your water pressure, even if it’s brief, follow standard boil-water precautions.
  • Vigorously boil water for one minute before using.
  • treat chemically by adding unscented chlorine bleach in these amounts: two drops of bleach for each quart of clear water or four drops of bleach for each quart of muddy or dirty water. Let the water stand for at least 30 minutes before using.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before eating, after using the bathroom or after participating in cleanup activities.
  • Fecal matter from sewage systems may contaminate floodwater. If you have open cuts of sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and clean water. Apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. See a physician if a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage.
  • Don’t allow children to play in floodwater. Don’t allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater. Disinfect toys with 1/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water.

Fire Hazards:

  • Using battery-powered lanterns and flashlights is preferable to using candles.
  • If you must use candles, make sure you put them in safe holders away from curtains, wood, paper or other flammable items.

Carbon Monoxide:

  • Grills or generators should only be used outdoors. Don’t use them inside a house, garage or any enclosed space.
  • Symptoms of CO poisoning may include fatigue, weakness, chest pains in those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness and death.
  • If you suspect you’re experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, open doors and windows, turn off has appliances and go outside. In severe cases, call 911 emergency services or the Mississippi Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Mosquito-Borne Illness:

  • Heavy rains and flooding can increase mosquitos. They are most active at sunrise and sunset. Use the 4 Ds for prevention.
  • Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitos are seeking blood.
  • Dress – Wear clothes that cover your skin.
  • DEET – Recommended repellents are those containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). Repellents with picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are recommended for human skin.
  • Drainage – Check your home to rid it of standing water in which mosquitos can lay their eggs.

Mold and Mildew:

  • Mold can grow anywhere with a source of moisture, a place to grow and food sources like leaves, wood, paper or dirt.
  • Mold spores in large numbers can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections and other respiratory problems.
  • Exposure to high spore levels can cause the development of an allergy to the mold.
  • Clean a moldy area, disinfect with bleach then dry the area. Bag and dispose of any material that has a moldy residue.
  • Contact a commercial environmental consulting firm for mold services.