Water Advisory Tips

Terry Munro
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Tips from Prince Albert Parkland Health Region

Boil Water Advisory Tips

This fact sheet provides basic information only. It must not take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Always talk to a healthcare professional about any health concerns you have, and before you make any changes to your diet, lifestyle or treatment.

Following are general recommendations on how to use the water if a boil water advisory has been issued in your community.


How do I use water when the boil water advisory has been issued?

The water should NOT be used for drinking, making infant formula and juices, cooking, making ice, washing fruits, vegetables or brushing teeth. For these purposes, boiled water or bottled water should be used. The water should be brought to a rapid rolling boil and boiled for one minute. If there are children in the home, place the pot on the back burner to avoid scalds. Boil only as much water in a pot as you can comfortably lift without spilling. Discard all ice made previously and disinfect the ice cube trays. Make ice using boiled, cooled water.

Can I use the water for hand washing?

If the boil water advisory has been issued as a precaution and there is no outbreak of human illness, there is no need for additional hand disinfection with bleach solution or alcohol using the measures described below

If the boil water advisory has been issued because of an outbreak, water can be used for hand washing after the following emergency water treatment: Place 1.5 oz (about 45 ml) liquid household bleach in 10 gallons (45 liters) water. Mix and let stand for at least 10 minutes prior to use.

How else can I disinfect my hands?

You can use alcohol-based hand disinfectants, containing more than 60% alcohol. These products are widely used in the health care setting after washing hands or in situations when water is not available. Please refer to information on “Hand Hygiene”. The wet wipes used for cleaning babies at diaper change are not effective for disinfecting hands and should not be used for this purpose.

Can I take a bath?

Adults and teens may shower with untreated water as long as no water is swallowed. Older children could 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 because they are likely to swallow tub water.

I have a dishwasher. Is it safe to use?

The water may be used for washing dishes in a dishwasher if there is a sani-cycle that reaches at least 45°C for 20 minutes or 50°C for 5 minutes or 72°C for one minute or 82° C for 12 seconds. Owners of domestic dishwashers should consult their dishwasher operation manual for sani-cycle information on the specific machine. If your dishwasher does not have a hot setting, after finishing the cycle, soak dishes for one minute in a solution of one oz (30 ml) of bleach mixed with three gallons of lukewarm water (13.5 liters). Let dishes air dry.

I wash dishes by hand. How do I disinfect them?

You could use boiled water for washing dishes. Dishes washed in soap and hot water can also be rinsed in boiled water or disinfected with the following bleach solution. Mix one oz (about 30 ml) bleach in to 3 gallons (13.5 liters) of water at room temperature for at least one minute. Let dishes air dry.

My child was ill with diarrhea. Should I clean/disinfect toys?

Yes, toys should be cleaned and disinfected. If the toys are visibly soiled, wash them first with soap and water and then disinfect with a freshly prepared bleach solution (1/4 cup (about 60 ml) bleach in to one gallon (4.5 liters) of water). Dip toys in to this solution and air dry them. Cloth and plush toys could be washed or dry-cleaned.

How do I disinfect countertops, chopping boards or utensils, which have come into contact with raw meat?

Countertops, chopping boards or utensils, which have come into contact with raw meat should be washed with soap and hot water first, then disinfected with a bleach solution stronger than that used for emergency hand disinfection. Mix ? cup (about 60 ml) bleach in to one gallon (4.5 liters) water for this purpose. Do not reuse or store this solution, but make it fresh daily.

Should I change the way I am doing laundry?

No, continue doing laundry the way you usually do. If you have to launder heavily soiled sheets carefully remove soil before you place the sheets into the washer, without much agitation of the cloth.

I have a water filtration device installed. Does this make the water safe for drinking or cooking?

No. Filtered water should also be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before drinking or using it for cooking.

My doctor told me I am immunocompromised. What should I do?

Always follow your physician and dietitian’s advice. You might be advised to use bottled water or to boil water for drinking/cooking, even in the absence of a boil water advisory.

What should I do after the boil water advisory is lifted?

Run cold-water faucets for one minute before using the water. Run drinking fountains for one minute before using the water. Flush all garden hoses by running cold water through for one minute. Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle. Drain and refill hot water heaters set below 45°C (normal setting is 60°C)

Tips from Prince Albert Parkland Health Region

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Parkland

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