Jeanne still poses health threats - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Jeanne still poses health threats

September 30, 2004

Valdosta - Unfortunately, a lot those groceries you bought last week may be a waste, thanks to Tropical Storm Jeanne. "The food inside the refrigerator can warm up to bacterial growing temperatures," said Environmental Health Director Stan Coppage.

Tens of thousands of South Georgia homes were without power for many hours, and that could make a bacterial breeding ground in your refrigerator. "If its more than about four hours, you should probably get rid of the food," said Coppage.

Public health officials say most foods aren't safe once the temperature climbs above 40 degrees. Some foods like butter, jellies, or bread products may still be salvageable, but if you're not sure, its better to be safe than sorry. "When in doubt, you need to throw it all out," said Coppage.

The good news is, even if your power was out for a whole day, you may not have lost everything. Most of the food in your freezer can stay frozen for more than 24 hours, even if you're without electricity. "As long as its got ice crystals on the food product, its safe," said Coppage.

And the dangers the storm left behind go farther than your refrigerator. We've seen people wading through and playing in the flood water around their homes, but public health officials say this can pose a huge threat. "You never know what could be under there that the water loosened up, glass, nails, and if children aren't up on their tetanus shots and they get stuck with something, it could really lead to some serious issues," said Jennifer Steedley.

All the standing water Jeanne left behind is also creating a dangerous situation. It makes an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos, and public health officials remind you that this is the peak season for West Nile Virus.

So even though Jeanne is long gone, she may still pose a threat for several weeks as the clean up continues.

posted at 3:20 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com