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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guidelines on Well Water, Frozen Foods

The Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) has issued some guidelines for residents on well water in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene as well as information about frozen foods.

Mark A.R. Cooper, director of health, has warned residents who obtain their potable water from their own private wells that they may be contaminated if they were flooded. Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Do not assume that the water in a flood-affected area is safe to drink.

The Environmental Health Section of the State Department of Public Health also recommends that homes with private wells flooded or damaged by the hurricane should be assumed to be contaminated.

Additionally, private wells with water that is unusually discolored or has a different odor than normal may have been compromised by surface water and may also be contaminated. Wells suspect of contamination should be flushed, disinfected and tested for bacteria before use.

Private well homeowners can access http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3115&q=485266 and http://www.ct.gov/dph/floods concerning the management of private wells and a video of the disinfection process.

Contaminated well water should not be used for human or animal consumption until it has been tested for bacteria and a satisfactory result has been achieved.

Further questions about well treatment and/or clean-up should be directed to the Private Well Program at 860)509-7296. Information on testing is available also at the WWHD website

Homeowners who have been without power for more than just a few hours, should also take note of safety considerations of refrigerated foods.

As a general rule, refrigerated items should be safe if power is not out for more than four hours. A full freezer should keep foods safe for about two days. Cold foods that have exceeded 40 degrees should be thrown away. Foods that need to be maintained hot that have fallen below a temperature of 140 degrees should be thrown away.

Cooper warned residents not to trust their eyes and sense of smell to determine whether foods may be safe to eat. Food may be unsafe, even if it doesn’t smell bad or even if it looks safe. “When in doubt, throw it out,” he said.

Public beaches have been closed to swimming until further notice. Many communities close their beaches to swimming preemptively after heavy rainfalls because experience has shown bacteria levels increase from all the surface wash.

After Hurricane Irene, there have been reported sewage bypasses in area towns which have the potential of negatively impacting Westport’s shoreline water quality. The Westport Weston Health District will collect beach water samples as soon as feasible to determine when it will be safe to reopen the beaches to swimming.

More specific information on food safety and/or how to disinfect flooded wells is available on the Westport Weston Health District’s website at: http://www.wwhd.org

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Posted 08/31/11 at 02:11 PM  Permalink



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