Aug 21

World Water Week Aug 23- Sep 1

Posted on August 21, 2023 at 2:23 PM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health Division notes that August 20-24, 2023 is designated World Water Week.  World Water Week 2023 is focused on innovation at a time of unprecedented challenges. The 2023 theme “Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World” invites us to rethink how we manage water.

 Henry and Stark County Health Department officials note that World Water Week helps us view water in new and fascinating ways. We focus on the value of water, from many different perspectives. Life, as we know it, would be impossible without water.  And, for our area residents - more specifically - ground water.  It is the world’s most extracted natural resource.  Don’t take groundwater for granted.  Therefore, this designation is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance.

 World Water Week was designed to urge each of us to consider various ways to protect our most valuable natural resource.  So remember about not running water while you brush your teeth.  Or about getting that leaking faucet fixed.  Or about the farmers that rely on groundwater to grow the food we eat.  And remember to have your well inspected to protect your drinking water system.

 Henry & Stark County Health Department Environmental Health staff state, "Through World Water Week, we would like to recommend to area residents that maybe it's time for your annual water well checkup!"

 Why is it a good idea to have my water well checked annually?  The truth is an annual checkup is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water.  Also, preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance, like good car maintenance, can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. We further recommend you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, or appearance, or when the system is serviced.

 Schedule your annual water well checkup.  Wells can provide high-quality drinking water, and about half the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells. But with well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order.

 The Environmental Health staff recommend that well owners:

  • Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a "clean" zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.
  • Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.
  • Maintain your waste water systems.
  • Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.
  • Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.
  • Make sure abandoned well are sealed properly within 30 days of abandonment.

 For more information on the Health Departments' Water Program, water testing and sealing abandoned wells, contact the Health Department at (309) 852-0197 Main Office.  You can also visit our website at or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us On Twitter and Instagram.

Jul 24

Food Safety During a Power Outage!

Posted on July 24, 2023 at 8:09 AM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments note that refrigerators and freezers are two of the home's most indispensable servants.  Therefore, when the power fails, or when the appliance breaks down, we often panic.  If your power goes out, knowing what to do with the food in your refrigerator and freezer can help you stay healthy.  The last thing you need after a weather emergency is a case of food poisoning.

If your power fails, the Health Department reminds you that all need not be lost, and they suggest the following hints to help you keep your cool.

  • If the power fails, always keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.  Never open them just to "check things out."  You'll lose precious cool air and make matters worse.
  • If you choose to place ice in and around refrigerator items, make certain you also insert enough containers to catch what melts, and don't allow foods to sit in water for any length of time.

The Environmental Health Services Staff note "An unopened full freezer will keep foods frozen for up to 2 full days.  If it's necessary to add ice to the freezer, make certain you handle it only with adequate ventilation and while wearing protective gloves."  

They add, "When power is restored, check all foods, fresh or frozen, to determine safety.  Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture, or feels warm to the touch.  Remember the saying, "When in doubt, throw it out." 

 For more information of food safety, contact the Environmental Health Division of the Henry and Stark County Health Department at (309) 852-0197 or visit our website at or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.

Power Outage Food Safety FB

Jul 10

West Nile Surveillance: Dead Bird Testing

Posted on July 10, 2023 at 8:54 AM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments announce that with the warm summer weather beginning; so does the season for West Nile Virus infection.  The Health Department Environmental Health Services staff note, "Key to the surveillance efforts of West Nile Virus throughout the state is the continued testing of the local mosquito and bird populations.  Mosquitoes and birds are the key vectors of West Nile virus transmission.  Therefore, the Health Department would like to alert area residents that they will be accepting dead birds for West Nile Virus testing."

 The Environmental Health Staff add, "Birds that will be accepted would include the following "Perching Bird" species: crows, blue jays, grackle, starling, robin, cardinal, catbird, mockingbird, sparrows, finches, flycatchers, swallows, warblers, wrens, and small or medium sized hawks and owls."

 Birds submitted for testing should be "eligible" birds with no obvious cause of death, i.e. or birds killed by a gunshot or birds found crushed on a roadside that are most likely killed by motor vehicles.  Birds dying from West Nile Virus are usually found singly, scattered over a wide area.  In contrast, birds that die from other causes (storm mortality, food poisoning, toxicants) often die in groups or clusters in a small area.

 Please note, no waterfowl, gulls, larger birds such as vultures, endangered birds including the bald eagle will not be accepted for testing.  Birds should only be submitted if they have not been damaged by scavenging animals and are not decomposed.  Decomposed animals can be recognized as having a strong odor, deflated or dried eyes, maggots present, or bloated from decomposition gases.  Those specimens should be discarded.

 Dead birds can be submitted to the Health Department Main Office, 110 N. Burr Blvd., Kewanee starting immediately.

 For more information on dead bird collection or West Nile Virus surveillance, contact the Health Department at (309) 852-0197 Extension 266 or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments, or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.