Water Boil Alerts 101

Water Boil Alerts 101

Local news issuing an alert to boil water? Read on as our plumbing columnist offers tips on what to do to keep you and your family safe.

Water boil alerts are becoming more common. They typically scroll across the bottom of the screen on your local news channel to let you know that you need to boil tap water before consuming it or opt for bottled water instead. But do you know what those alerts are really for and what you’re supposed to do?

A water boil alert includes information on what you should do with your water when it comes to preparing food, beverages, or even making ice.

If you’ve ever been under a boil water alert, you’ve most likely been told that you are better off using bottled water. However, bottled water isn’t always an option. If you need to boil water instead, it’s best to do so by bringing the water to a full rolling boil for one minute before allowing it to cool. Be sure not to use ice cubes from your refrigerator so that you aren’t using the contaminated water. Even if you have filtered water, you’ll still want to bring it to a boil, because anything connected to your water line can be contaminated.

Need to wash your hands? In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands under a water boil alert. If you aren’t able to use the water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

When it comes to bathing and showering, be sure not to swallow any water while doing so. Oftentimes, littles consume water while they’re in the bath, so it may be best to not put them in the tub when you’re under a boil water alert. If you must bathe your child during this time, you may want to consider a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing any water. 

Just as you should not consume water without boiling it while under a boil water alert, don’t brush your teeth with tap water that hasn’t been boiled. It’s often impossible to not swallow any water while brushing your teeth, so you can protect yourself from contaminated water when you boil it before brushing. 

If you have to wash dishes while under a boil water alert, make sure that the water used on a final rinse reaches at least 150 degree Fahrenheit, to burn off any contamination. However, it’s better to use disposable plates, cups, and utensils under a boil water alert.

Water boil alerts aren’t just to protect humans, they also help to protect your pets from contaminated water. Pets can get sick by some of the same germs that people get sick from or even spread them like humans. If you’re under a boil water alert, be sure to give your pets bottled water or boiled water. 

While it may seem a little scary to be under a boil water alert, you don’t always need to be cautious about all that you do in the house during this time. You Can wash clothes as usual and even water your houseplants and garden without using boiling water.

Boil water alerts are a public health advisory given by government or health authorities when a community’s drinking water is, or could be, contaminated by pathogens. It’s important to remember that the point of these alerts aren’t to serve as an inconvenience but rather to help keep you safe.

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