Health Department issues recommendations



MEMPHIS, TN ¾ Due to the current post storm conditions, the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department strongly encourages all citizens to follow these recommendations in order to prevent illness, disease or possible death.

Well Water

Due to the heavy rains and structural storm damage, water from underground wells may be contaminated. Water should be purified before drinking according to the instructions listed below.

Water purification procedures include:

1. Boiling water for one minute once it reaches rapid boil

2. Chlorinate one gallon of water with the use of 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of ordinary household bleach (5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite). Do not use fragranced or scented bleach. The water is to stand for 30 minutes prior to use.

3. Water storage. In the event of an anticipated water shortage:

a. Water containers used for storage must be sanitized with 50-200 ppm chlorine.

b. All stored water shall be from approved sources or purified by temperature or chlorination.

c. Store enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

4. Commercially bottled water is well preserved and will last approximately 5 to 10 years, depending on the container. Shelf life of water stored in clear containers can be increased by storing them in dark plastic bags to eliminate light.


If refrigeration is not available, perishable foods (meat, dairy products, etc.) should be cooked and eaten as soon as possible. Frozen food may be kept in a closed freezer for up to 3 days, but as it begins to thaw, food should be cooked and used as soon as possible or thrown away.

The most reliable source of foods are canned goods, dried products (such as powdered milk, fruit, cereals, unsalted crackers, etc.) or freeze-dried products purchased for camping. Canned goods should be inspected to assure that they are not damaged or punctured in any way before using.


Health Department Recommendations/Emergency

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Charcoal grills and propane gas grills can be used for emergency cooking, but must be done outdoors in an area designated safe from gas leaks. Do NOT use charcoal grills indoors.

Pots and pans must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized. Use single service articles such as paper plates, paper cups, plastic forks, plastic spoons, etc., to conserve water.

Proper handwashing must be practiced during unusual times. In fact, it is even more critical that hands be washed, as there are other circumstances which may result in a higher probability of food or water borne disease outbreaks.

The Power's Out –

Your Freezer

Without power, a full upright or chest freezer will keep everything frozen for about 2 days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen 1 day.

If power will be coming back fairly soon, you can make the food last longer by keeping the door shut as such as possible.

If power will be off for an extended period, take food to friends’ freezers or a commercial freezer where power is available, or use dry ice.

Your Refrigerator-Freezer Combination

Without power, the refrigerator section will keep food cool 4-6 hours depending on the kitchen temperature.

A full, well-functioning freezer unit should keep food frozen for 2 days. A half-full freezer unit should keep things frozen about 1 day.

Block ice can keep food on the refrigerator shelves cooler. Dry ice can be added to the freezer unit. You can’t touch dry ice and you shouldn’t breathe the fumes, so follow handling instructions carefully.

Thawed Food

Food still containing ice crystals or that feels refrigerator-cold can be refrozen.

Discard any thawed food that has risen to room temperature and remained there 2 hours or more. Immediately discard anything with a strange color or odor.

For more information, contact the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department at 544-7757.


MEMPHIS, TN - The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department is advising the public and food establishment operators that restaurants with NO electrical power are not permitted to operate until power is restored. The exception to closure is for those establishments that have auxiliary power that allows them to power refrigeration units to maintain proper food temperature at the FDA requirement of 41º or less, and that hot and cold running water is readily available.

Restaurants and groceries are to discard any potentially hazardous food (meat, fish, dairy products) that has been above 41º F. four (4) hours or more, or has an unusual color, odor, or texture.

Grocery stores are allowed to sell non-perishable foods such as canned goods, bottled/canned drinks, and bread products.

Health Department environmentalists will be monitoring food service establishments to insure that these emergency public health measures are followed.

Please call the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department’s Environmental Sanitation Food Service Section during normal business hours at 544-7757 or 544-7671 if you have any questions or concerns.