Nobody likes it when their local authorities issue boil water notices. Boiling water is the last thing you would want to do when you’re thirsty. But it’s necessary to do so in this case whether you like it or not.
In case you’ve never heard of a boil water notice before, it’s a type of warning that the local authorities issue to residents whenever there’s a suspicion of contamination in public drinking water. Most of the pathogens that might spill into the water are quite dangerous – even deadly for some people. Let’s explore how you can combat this in detail.
When is a Boil Water Notice Issued?
Local authorities issue a boil water notice whenever a serious problem occurs at the water plant. Usually, this can mean one of the following things:
- A pipeline broke
- An unexpected equipment failure has occurred
- A power outage has made the filtration system inoperable
The risk of contamination increases dramatically because of these factors. If a pipe breaks, the dirt from outside can come into contact with the water and spread sediment as well as germs and mold.
When filtration equipment fails or there’s no electric power to operate it, the water plant can’t eliminate bacteria, excess chlorine, or sediment properly. That’s why the risk of infection increases whenever any of these three things happen. And it’s important to be prepared for such a scenario rather than getting caught by surprise.
With that in mind, let’s look at several ways you can tackle the boil water notice without risking infection for yourself, your family, and your pets.
Get a Good Filtration System
The first best thing you can do is get a reliable filtration system that can handle sediment and pathogens (bacteria, viruses, mold, parasites, etc).
If you want a convenient solution, you can try a reverse osmosis system. However, keep in mind that it has a tendency to waste a lot of water, it’s fairly difficult to install and costly to maintain because you need to change the membrane often.
Alternatively, you could try getting a pre-filtering system for sediment and a UV water purifier for pathogens. The UV-C rays emitted by the purifier target bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other microorganisms at the DNA level. As long as there are no other impurities in your water, it is the best solution against disease-causing pathogens.
Store Water in Sterile Water Storage Containers
It’s always a good idea to have at least a few days’ worth of clean water stored in case of emergencies.
Americans do this mostly for disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, but it is a good idea to also do this in case of boil water notices – which might occur more often than the previous two in most states.
For more details about the types of water storage containers and how to use them properly, make sure to visit the CDC’s official article on this topic.
What You Should Do During a Boil Water Notice
In case you don’t have a proper filtration system or storage containers filled with clean water, you should take note of the following important steps.
First off, if you want to drink water from the tap, you should boil it. You can use any clean pot or kettle to boil your water.
Keep in mind that the altitude where you’re at will play a significant role. In low-altitude areas, you can bring water to its boiling point for one minute. But in high-altitude areas, you should let it at its boiling point for at least three minutes.
Once you’re done with this, let it cool on the counter and once its temperature has dropped enough, feel free to put it in a clean bottle or food-grade storage container at room temperature or in the fridge. Make sure to use a strainer or a type of screen to filter out the sediment that’s settled down.
Note, however, that boiled water lacks that specific flavor. If you want it back, add a pinch of salt or just shake it in a container so that the minerals can resurface. And never hesitate to boil it for consumption (drinking it, cooking food with water, etc).
What You Can Do Without Boiling Water
You can wash your hands using warm water as long as you also use soap and disinfectant afterwards. Similarly, you can also shower during a boil water notice as long as you’re careful not to drink any of it.
Dishwashers and washing machines should also work well as long as there’s not too much sediment. However, note that the dishwasher should be a model that’s capable of heating water up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually, a dishwasher that comes with a sanitize option does so.
Also, if you want to wash dishes by hand, you can do that as well. However, you should sanitize the dishes afterward using a bleach solution after the dishes have been washed and rinsed. Then let the dishes air dry prior before using them.
If a boil water notice catches you off-guard (without full water storage containers or a filter), then you’ll have to boil it and let it cool for most intents and purposes. We advise you to get one of these two solutions (or both. Why not?) so you won’t have to boil water in the future.