COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - As residents re-enter evacuation areas affected by the Black Forest Fire, El Paso County Public Health has opened a Public Health Convenience Center for residents to get free water testing kits, tetanus vaccination, and public health information.
The Public Health Convenience Center is located at The Classical Academy's East Campus, 12201 Cross Peak View, in Colorado Springs, located just west of the Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Range campus and east of New Life Church. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with hours to be announced based on availability of supplies. Public Health will offer the following services while supplies last:
Water testing kits. Test kits can be picked up and dropped off at the Public Health Convenience Center (PHCC) no later than 1 p.m. or at the El Paso County Public Health Laboratory, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Rd. (second floor) no later than 4 p.m. Return your sample the same day you collect it. Water testing fees will be waived for Black Forest residents who live in evacuated areas.
Vaccine clinics: Free tetanus (TDAP) vaccination or booster (TD) will be provided. Tetanus is a preventable disease that, if contracted, affects the body's central nervous system. The bacteria that cause tetanus are usually found in soil, dust and manure and enter the body through cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects, such as nails and splinters. During an emergency, tetanus is recommended for impacted residents or first responders who have not had a documented dose within the past five years.
Water wells in areas with no evidence of active burn damage are likely safe. However, Public Health will provide water testing kits and instructions for residents who would like their water tested. The center will be staffed by Public Health professionals and volunteers, with appreciation to The Classical Academy for use of the school building.
"Water testing is not required," said Public Health Director Jill Law, R.N., M.H.A. "However, for anyone who has concerns about the safety of their water, we are offering basic water testing. We want to provide people with the peace of mind that comes with knowing their water is safe."
Results are available within 72 hours after receipt of the sample in the lab. Results can be mailed, emailed, or faxed. Those with a positive result will receive a call within 24 hours. For questions, call (719) 578-3199.
The water will be tested for presence of coliform and E.coli bacteria. If these bacteria are present in your drinking water, your risk of contracting a waterborne illness is increased. A positive sample should be considered an indication of possible contamination in your well. If coliform bacteria is detected, chlorination, repairs or modifications of the water system may be required and drinking bottled water is advised.
Water testing instructions and information, as well as tetanus vaccine FAQs are available on El Paso County Public Health's website: www.elpasocountyhealth.org.