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Public Health

Posted on: February 18, 2021

Health Concerns During and After Winter Weather

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Denton County Public Health (DCPH) reminds community members of the health-related concerns during and following winter weather.  The significant weather and extended emergencies caused by lack of electricity, gas, and/or water can create health-related concerns inside and outside.

Various jurisdictions within Denton County have advised boiling water notices due to power and water outages.  These outages could lead to possible contamination of water.  To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, mixing baby formula, cooking, and making ice should be boiled and cooled prior to use.  To consume tap water, boil water for two minutes after water has reached a full rolling boil.  If tap water is inaccessible, it is advised to utilize bottled water only.  Continue disinfecting the water until the water provider notifies residents that water is safe again.  When it is no longer necessary to boil water, additional instructions may be provided to flush and clear lines.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and invisible gas that can seriously sicken or kill individuals.  To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning during winter weather, choose safe heating options.  Only place generators outside at least 20 feet away from homes or buildings and never use generators indoors, even if windows and doors are open.  Do not run cars inside a garage, even with the garage doors open.  Outdoor grills, camp stoves, and appliances meant for open-air use should not be used indoors.  Choose safer options to stay warm such as going to a warming center, bundling up with additional clothes or blankets, eating and drinking, and taking steps to conserve heat inside the house.  People with carbon monoxide poisoning should go – or be moved to – a well-ventilated area outdoors and seek immediate medical attention. Learn more about safety during and after a storm at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/duringstorm/indoorsafety.html. 

Power outages can make many foods unsafe to eat.  During a power outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.  Never taste food to determine its safety.  After a power outage, throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.  Discard any food containers that are bulging, opened, swelling, or damaged.  When in doubt, throw it out.  Perishable foods like meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and more, should be discarded after four or more hours without power.  Food stored in a full freezer may be safe for 48 hours without power.  Learn more about food safety at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/facts.html. 

More winter weather safety and recovery information can be found at https://www.ready.gov/power-outages, https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather, and https://texasready.gov/.

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