Precautions When Your Water is Unsafe to Drink
When your water has bacterial contamination and it’s unsafe to drink we recommend the following drinking water precautions:
- Boil water for one minute at a rolling boil or you may wish to use commercially bottled water.
- Cooking foods at normal cooking temperatures will make the water safe. When washing off fruits and vegetables, making ice cubes, coffee in a percolator or other food processes that use water, be sure to boil the water first and cool it or use bottled water.
- Bathing in this water is safe as long as you do not drink the water. Babies and small children should be supervised during a bath, do not let your child put water or a wet wash cloth in their mouths. You may wish to sponge-bathe your child with safe water.
- Brushing your teeth/ dentures should be done with safe water.
- If your dishwasher has a hot/sani-cycle then it can be used, as it safely disinfects dishes. If it does not have this setting, after the final cycle, soak dishes for 1 minute in a solution of 30ml (1oz) of bleach mixed with 13.5 litres (3 gallons) of lukewarm water. Let dishes air dry.
Frequently Asked Questions During a Boil Water Advisory
What is a Boil Water Advisory?
A Boil Water Advisory is a recommendation made to residents of a community when bacteria have been found in their drinking water system. Unsafe drinking water can be made safe by boiling their water for at least one minute. This recommendation is made to a community to protect the health of its people.
When is a Boil Water Advisory Recommended?
The Public Health Unit recommends Boil Water Advisories when there is known bacterial contamination in the water supply OR when there is a risk of bacterial contamination in the water supply.
What Can I Drink During a Boil Water Advisory?
You can drink tap water if it has been boiled for one minute. Cool and store all boiled water in a covered container. If you do not wish to boil your water, you may choose to drink commercially packaged water for drinking.
How Will I Know When the Boil Water Advisory Has Been Lifted?
The Public Health Unit will work with community leaders and when the water is safe to drink without boiling the advisory will be lifted and you will be notified. The operator of the system will notify residents that the water is safe to drink.
I Drank the Water Before I Realized There Was a Boil Water Advisory. Am I Going to Get Sick?
The Boil Water Advisory has been recommended as a precaution. If you drank the water before hearing of the advisory, your risk of becoming ill is low. However, if you begin to have fever, diarrhea or vomiting you should seek medical attention. Advise your health care practitioner that you have consumed tap water during the Boil Water Advisory.
I Have a Dishwasher. Is It Safe to Use During a Boil Water Advisory?
If your dishwasher has a hot/sani-cycle then it can be used, it safely disinfects dishes. If it does not have this setting, after the final cycle, soak dishes for 1 minute in a solution of 30ml (1oz) of bleach mixed with 13.5 litres (3 gallons) of lukewarm water. Let dishes air dry.
Can I Use the Water for Other Purposes?
You can use the water for bathing and household uses such as laundry as long as you do not drink it. Supervise babies and children during bathing to ensure that they do not drink the water.
During a Boil Water Advisory, Why Are Restaurants/Food Premises Still Open?
When there is a Boil Water Advisory, restaurants/food premises are given very specific orders from the Health Unit as to how to operate. These orders will ensure that the foods being served to the public remain safe.
How Long is Boiled Water Safe To Drink?
As long as the water is protected from contamination, it should remain safe to drink. Once the water has been boiled, let it cool and then cover it and place it in the refrigerator for future consumption.
Can My Pets Drink the Water?
Pets should be provided boiled and cooled water, or water from a safe source until the boil water advisory is lifted.
Can I Use My Coffee Maker?
Most residential coffee makers are not capable of maintaining high temperatures for a long enough period of time to kill bacteria. Coffee and tea can be made by using water that has been brought to a rolling boil for a period of one minute or bottled water. If using an automatic shut off kettle, make sure the water has boiled for one minute.
Can I Use My Activated Charcoal Filter System (i.e. Brita or Other Brand Names) to Treat My Water During a Boil Water Advisory?
No. These filters are not designed to remove bacteria from an unsafe water supply. If you have run the water through your filter during the Boil Water Advisory it could be contaminated. It is recommended that you discard the filter and replace it with a new one once the Boil Water Advisory is over.
How Do I Safely Prepare My Baby’s Formula During the Boil Water Advisory?
Sterilize all bottles, rings, utensils and nipples in boiling water for two minutes. The water used to mix with the formula must be boiled at a rolling boil for at least two minutes.
Should I Be Concerned if the Water is Discoloured?
No, the colour of the water should not affect its safety provided it has been boiled for a period of one minute.