TALLAHASSEE — As Gulf Coast Counties work to recover from Hurricane Sally, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is urging residents to not consume water under a boil water notice.
At this time, water in Gulf Coast Counties may be unsafe for drinking and without electricity, residents are unable to boil water to decontaminate. Further, due to the storm, the overall sanitary conditions have been significantly impacted.
Unsafe drinking water and generally unsanitary conditions can lead to gastrointestinal illness, increased risk of infection and dehydration.
The Department, along with local, state and federal partners, is working diligently to mobilize resources to the affected counties. Restoring power, safe drinking water and sound sanitary conditions are top priorities. Bottled water is being provided to residents who are currently in the affected counties. Also, portable toilets have been staged for use in multiple locations as sewer systems have been breached.
Practicing good hygiene is critical to preventing illness. Residents are urged to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer often and ensure that good hygiene practices are followed during food preparation.
Residents should not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges. Canned food should not be eaten if there is a bulging or opening on the can or screw caps, soda bottle tops or twist-caps. Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if labels are removed and cans are disinfected in a bleach solution. Use 1/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water; re-label the cans including expiration date and type of food. Infants should preferably be breast fed or fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with untreated water, use boiled water instead. When the power is out, refrigerators will only keep foods cool for approximately 4 hours – thawed and refrigerated foods should be thrown out after 4 hours.
Local officials will announce when water is safe to drink.
During severe weather and other emergencies, you can count on active alerts from the Department’s official social media accounts. One of the fastest ways to receive official and accurate health-related information is to monitor @HealthyFla on Twitter and on Facebook.