Frequently Asked Questions: Notes on Boiling Water

September 28, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions: Notes on Boiling Water

Cynthia Leckie, Director of EH
[email protected]

Viera, Florida – Below are some frequently asked questions about boil water warnings.

  1. What is the proper way to disinfect my water so that it is safe to drink?

To be safe, you can disinfect tap water using the procedures below. Do not rely on unproven methods of contaminating water. If the water is cloudy, allow it to settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel or coffee filter. This will aid the disinfection process. If you have excess water, place it in containers that have been disinfected (see information below on water disinfection).

The preferred method of water disinfection is Boiling water.

  • Let the water boil for at least one minute to kill harmful bacteria and parasites.
  • To improve the smooth taste of boiled water, add a pinch of salt (depending on health status) to each quart or liter of water, or transfer the water from one clean container to another clean container several times.

If boiling is not possible, use Household bleach.

  • Add eight drops of unscented regular household bleach (four to six percent strength), which is about 1/8 teaspoon, or a dime-sized puddle, per gallon of water.
    • Do not use color-safe bleach or bleach with added detergents.
  • If using a higher strength bleach (up to 8.25 percent strength), add only six drops of bleach.
  • Stir the solution and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure once.
  • If the chlorine taste is too strong, transfer the water from one clean container to another and let it sit for a few hours before using.

It is possible to use etc Disinfection methods.

Note: Follow product label instructions as each product may have different strengths.

  • Five drops of iodine (two percent tincture) may be added to each quart or liter of water for disinfection.

Note: According to CDCwater that has been disinfected with iodine is NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, people with known hypersensitivity to iodine, or for prolonged use of more than a few weeks.

  • If the water is cloudy or colored, add 10 drops of iodine.
  • Stir and let the water sit for at least 30 minutes before use.
  • Water disinfection tablets (available at sporting goods departments or stores) that contain chlorine, iodine, chlorine dioxide, or other disinfecting agents can also be used.

Water containers should be rinsed with a bleach solution of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water before reuse.

  1. How should I wash my hands while using water under the boiled water notice?

When you use a public water supply, your tap water is safe for basic personal hygiene, especially when you wash your hands vigorously with soap for 20 seconds. If you wash your hands to prepare food, if possible, you should use hand soap with commercial bottled water or tap water that has been properly disinfected.

  1. Is potentially contaminated water (where the probability of Cryptosporidium not significant) safe for washing dishes or clothes?

Yes, the water is safe to use if you soak hand-washed dishes for one minute in a bleach solution made from one tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water after you have washed and rinsed them. Allow the dishes to air dry completely. Most household dishwashers do not reach the appropriate temperature to disinfect dishes.

Yes, it is safe to wash clothes in tap water.

  1. Is potentially contaminated water safe for bathing and shaving?

The water can be used for showering, bathing, shaving and washing, provided care is taken not to swallow or get water in the eyes, nose or mouth. Children and disabled people should bathe under supervision to ensure they do not swallow water. Time spent bathing should be kept to a minimum. Although the risk of illness is minimal, people who have recent surgical wounds, have a compromised immune system, or have a chronic illness may consider using commercial bottled water or tap water that has been boiled and cooled for cleaning until the notice to boil water be removed.

  1. How do I wash fruits and vegetables and make ice?

Fruits and vegetables should be washed with water that has been boiled and cooled, commercially available bottled water, or water that has been properly disinfected. (See information on disinfection in question 1 above.) Ice should be made with boiled water, commercial bottled water, or disinfected water.

  1. What if I have already consumed potentially contaminated water?

Even if someone has consumed potentially contaminated water from a public water supply system or a private well, the likelihood of becoming ill is low. Anyone experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps, with or without fever, should seek medical attention.

  1. What infectious organisms might be present in contaminated water?

The main organisms of concern are protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium; bacteria such as Shigella, E. cars, and Salmonella and viruses such as Norovirus and hepatitis A. These organisms commonly affect the gastrointestinal system, causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, with or without fever. These illnesses can be serious or life-threatening, especially in older people, the very young, or those with compromised immune systems.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Council on Public Health Accreditation, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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