Helpful information after the storm

By Rhonda Cummins
Aug. 30, 2017 at 6:27 p.m.

Rhonda Cummins

Rhonda Cummins   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Top priorities are safety for you, your neighbors, etc. Flooding disasters are probably the worst because of all the other issues that come with the high water and lack of power. Here's a beginning list to get you started during this overwhelming time.

Spoiled food

Most food-borne illnesses are caused by bacteria that multiply rapidly at temperatures above 40 degrees. Discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees for two hours or more and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.

Never taste food to determine its safety: Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been at room temperature longer than two hours, bacteria can begin to multiply very rapidly and cause food-borne illnesses. Some types will produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking and can possibly cause illness.

Use the following chart (courtesy of Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service) to decide which foods are safe to eat when the power is restored.

Discard: The following foods should be discarded if kept over two hours at above 40 degrees.

• Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and egg substitutes - raw or cooked.

• Milk, cream, yogurt and soft cheese

• Casseroles, stews or soups

• Lunch meats and hot dogs

• Cream-based salad dressings

• Custard, chiffon or cheese pies

• Cream-filled pastries

• Refrigerator and cookie dough

• Discard open mayonnaise, tartar sauce and horseradish if above 50 degrees for more than eight hours.

Save: The following foods should keep at room temperature a few days. Still, discard anything that turns moldy or has an unusual odor.

• Butter or margarine

• Hard and processed cheeses

• Fresh fruits and vegetables

• Dried fruits and coconut

• Opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressings, jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives and peanut butter

• Fruit juices

• Fresh herbs and spices

• Fruit pies, breads, rolls and muffins

• Cakes, except cream cheese-frosted or cream-filled

• Flour and nuts

Refreeze: Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals may be refrozen. Thawed foods that do not contain ice crystals, but have been kept at 40 degrees or below for two days or less, may be cooked, then refrozen or canned.

Mosquitoes

After a severe storm, mosquito populations can skyrocket, and the diseases they carry can be a danger to humans. Mosquito problems occur in two distinct waves after a flood. The first to arrive are the floodwater mosquitoes, which include the salt marsh and pastureland mosquitoes. These mosquito species deposit their eggs on the soil in areas that are flooded periodically. When flooded, the eggs hatch five to seven days later, resulting in large swarms of mosquitoes during the warmest times of the year. This is especially concerning considering the mosquito-borne illness possible in Texas, like Zika, West Nile, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya.

Repellent quick tips:

• Repellent should only be applied to clothing and exposed skin.

Do not apply repellent underneath clothing.

• If you want to apply repellent to your face, spray your hands with repellent and rub it onto your face.

• Do not spray repellent directly into your face or near eyes or mouth.

• Make sure to apply repellent outdoors.

• Do not allow small children to handle repellents.

• After applying repellent, wash hands before eating, smoking or using the restroom.

• Keep repellent just outside your doorway to remind you to apply every time you go outside for an extended period of time.

Mosquitoes, need three things to survive - food, water and shelter. If we eliminate one of the three, mosquitoes cannot survive.

Keep mosquitoes out of your home and yard:

• Repair window and door screens

• Eliminate mosquito shelters in your yard

• Mow grass and tall weeds

• Cut back shrubs and vines

• Treat in shaded areas with a professional pest control application or DIY spray treatment

• Remove tires and junk

Dump, drain or change water:

• Dump or drain water to eliminate egg laying sites.

• Change water regularly in a dog dish, bird bath or plant pot to eliminate nutrients.

• Eliminate any place where water can collect and be retained for seven-10 days, especially when there is organic matter present, such as soil or leaves.

When water can't be dumped or drained:

• Use a larvicide for homeowners such as Mosquito Dunks or the Mosquito Torpedo that are based on Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (Bti), a bacterium that produces proteins that are toxic for certain fly larvae.

• These products have little effect on the environment and lower impact than adulticides.

• They are also safe for non-target insects and mammals.

• They are usually effective for up to 30 days.

• The labels describe how these products should be used and how long each product lasts.

Learn more at agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/browse/mosquito-control/ or visit texasseagrant.org/programs/post-hurricane-harvey-recovery-resources.

Rhonda Cummins is a volunteer site coordinator for Magnolia Beach.


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