Tap Water Safety

Dear Home Ec 101:

I live in hurricane country and there are often boiling water advisories after a storm. How long am I supposed to boil the water before it is safe to drink?

~Avoiding the Runs in Ravenel

Heather says:

Boil water advisories are more common than you may think. They can happen if the power is disrupted for an extended period of time, but they are also issued for line breaks, positive tests for contamination, and occasionally when maintenance is being done. For a while it seemed they were doing maintenance every other week in my neighborhood.

Water should be brought to a roiling boil and boiled for one minute.

Begin timing when the bubbles appear. Allow it to cool and place in a clean, covered container.

These advisories also apply to more than just drinking water, it affects tooth brushing, cleaning produce, and ice making. Be sure to use boiled water for these purposes, as well.

Showering is typically safe for adults and teenagers -provided they can keep their mouths shut, a difficult skill to be sure- young children should be given sponge-baths.

Dishes can safely be washed in hot water with a small amount bleach in the rinse water (one tablespoon per gallon).

After the advisory has been lifted flush the pipes by running each -this means all of them- cold water tap for one minute. If you have an automatic ice maker, discard the first three batches. If you want to be frugal, run the water into a bucket and use this for plant watering or toilet flushing.

Remember most filters, such as those in a fridge are for taste and odors, not harmful bacteria.

Hang in there.

Send your domestic questions to Helpme@home-ec101.com.



5 Comments

  1. Azura Nemeski on May 28, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Tap water is definitely safe to drink when boiled. We usually use boiled water for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, and cleaning. However, even though it is practical to use boiled water, we still buy purified drinking water in the market. 🙂

  2. Patricia Myers on September 25, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Enter text right here!

  3. Heather Solos on September 24, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Like I mentioned, it doesn't take a disaster launch a boil water advisory. We had a water main break down our street last year, we had to boil water until it was fully repaired.

  4. TylerW on September 23, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I find this all very interesting being that I live in Tucson Arizona and we really don''t have natural disasters of any kind. But I think it is always beneficial to know exactly how to successfully boil and decontaminate water. great post!

  5. TylerW on September 23, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I find this all very interesting being that I live in Tucson Arizona and we really don''t have natural disasters of any kind. But I think it is always beneficial to know exactly how to successfully boil and decontaminate water. great post!

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