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How to Use Water Safely During a Boil Water Advisory

How do I use tap water that might be contaminated?  

The water should NOT be used for drinking, making infant formula and juices, cooking, making ice, washing fruits and vegetables, or brushing teeth. For these purposes, water should be disinfected by boiling or purchased bottled water should be used.
 
Tap water must be brought to a rapid rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Be safe - only boil as much water in a pot as you can comfortably lift and place the pot on the back burner of the stove to avoid burns. Throw out ice cubes made previously, disinfect the ice cube trays, and make new ice using boiled, cooled water.
 
I have a water filtration device installed. Does this make the water safe for drinking or cooking?
No. Filtered water should not be used for drinking or cooking unless it is boiled first.
 
Can I take a bath?
Adults and teens may shower with untreated water as long as no water is swallowed. Older children can also be given a shower with a hand held showerhead, avoiding the face. Younger children should be sponge-bathed instead of bathing in a tub to avoid any accidental swallowing of tub water.
 
Can I use the water for handwashing?
If there is no advisory regarding an outbreak of human illness you can use the water for washing hands. However, if an advisory has been issued because of an outbreak, water used for handwashing should be disinfected first by placing 1 mL of liquid household bleach (5% strength) per 1 litre of water. Mix and let stand for at least 10 minutes before using.
You can also use alcohol-based hand disinfectants, containing more than 60% alcohol. Note: The wet wipes used for cleaning babies at diaper change are not effective for disinfecting hands and should not be used for this purpose.
 
How can I safely wash dishes?
If your dishwasher has a hot (sani-cycle) setting, it safely disinfects dishes. If your dishwasher does not have that cycle, after the dishes have completed the normal cycle, you can soak dishes for 1 minute in a solution of 20 mL of liquid household bleach (5% strength) with 1 litre of water and let dishes air dry. If you are washing dishes by hand, you can use boiled water for washing dishes. Dishes washed in soap and hot water can be rinsed in boiled water or a solution of 20 mL of liquid household bleach (5% strength) with 1 litre of water and let dishes air dry.
 
Can I still do laundry?
Yes, continue doing laundry the way you usually do.
 
Is the water safe to fill wading pools for children?
No, the water is not safe to use in wading pools because water usually gets into the mouths of small children (under 4 years of age) and could cause infection.
 
What if someone in the household has diarrhea?
You should clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces throughout the house (including toys if there are children). Disinfection can be done with a freshly prepared solution of 7 mL of liquid household bleach (5% strength) to 1 litre of water. Wipe surfaces like doorknobs and appliance handles, and dip toys right into the solution and air-dry them. Cloth and plush toys can be washed or dry-cleaned.
 
What do I do if the water smells like sewage?
If the water smells like sewage, you should take further precautions and not use the water for bathing and cleaning. If you need to continue using the water for cleaning purposes only, use a freshly prepared bleach solution of 7 mL of liquid household bleach (5% strength) to 1 litre of water.
 
My doctor said that I am “immuno-compromised”, what should I do?
Always follow your physician's and dietitian's advice.
 
What should I do after the boil water advisory is lifted?
Run cold water faucets (and drinking fountains) for 1 minute before using the water. Flush all garden hoses by running cold water through them for 1 minute. Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle. Drain and refill hot water heaters set below 45°C (normal setting is 60°C)
 
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