Ahead of Hurricane Zeta, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) advises residents to prepare now for dangerous storm conditions including heavy rain, possible flash flooding, high winds, and possible tornadoes.
Preparing a Disaster Kit
Stock your home with supplies that may be needed during an emergency. At a minimum, these supplies should include:
- Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person).
- A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food.
- A first aid kit and manual.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries.
- Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
- Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
- Prescription medicines and special medical needs.
- Baby food, prepared formula, diapers and other baby supplies.
- Disposable cleaning cloths, such as “baby wipes” for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
- Personal hygiene items: soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
- An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, and fire extinguisher.
For more information on disaster supply kits, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/kit.
Due to power loss, food may not be safe to eat during and after a hurricane. Safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled or treated water.
- Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
- Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
- Throw away foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs) that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for two hours or more.
- Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged. Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below can be refrozen or cooked.
- 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.
- While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Never place any type of food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Thoroughly wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose and after coughing or sneezing.
Drinking Water Safety
Safe drinking water includes bottled, boiled or treated water. Remember these general rules concerning water for drinking and cooking if you are under a boil-water alert, or if you are not sure your water is safe to drink:
- Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash or prepare food or make ice.
- Tap water may be used for showering, baths, shaving or washing, as long as one does not swallow the water or allow it in eyes or mouth. Parents should supervise children to make sure water is not ingested, and caregivers should supervise disabled individuals for the same reason. Those with recent surgical wounds, who have a chronic illness or are immunosuppressed should consider using bottled or boiled water for bathing until their boil water notice is lifted.
- Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms.
- Water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets or by mixing eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the solution thoroughly and let stand for about 30 minutes. Unlike boiling, this treatment will not kill parasitic organisms.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas, and is highly poisonous. Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.
The following precautions can 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 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.
For more information on hurricane preparedness and safety, visit HealthyMS.com/storm or download the free MS Ready smartphone app to get alerts sent straight to your phone.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.