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Energency Water Treatment - Boil Water Alert

Boil Water Alert: Emergency Water Treatment
Published on 2/28/2017

Keeping yourself hydrated is essential for good health. However, the quality of water you are drinking is crucial. Intake of contaminated water can have serious negative effects on your well-being. Many contaminants from inorganic and organic chemicals, heavy metals to disinfectants and disinfection byproducts can render water unfit for drinking.

Disease-causing microorganisms are arguably the contaminants with most dire and immediate repercussions. Making sure your water source is free from pathogens is essential to guarantee health and safety of your family. One of the best ways to get rid of virus and bacteria from water is to boil it.

What is a Boil Water Advisory?

A boil water-advisory is a directive issued by a concerned government and health authorities to urge people to boil water before using it. It is a preventative measure taken in response to actual or potential contamination in the drinking water system that can affect people’s health.

Public drinking water systems all across the country take several measures to ensure the tap water that reaches your homes, is safe to drink. However, there is always a possibility of a malfunction. The most common casual factor behind a boil-water advisory is the detection of microbiological indicators of sewage contamination in drinking water. Broken or damaged lines can lead to that.

Another common cause of contamination is loss of system-pressure. Pathogens can easily access drinking water if the pressure in piped-water system is lower than normal. Whatever the cause of contamination is that leads to the issuance of boil-water advisory, the harmful microorganisms are the culprits.

What Can Harmful Pathogens Do?

Disease causing protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, bacteria such as Shigella, E. coli, and viruses such as Hepatitis A can enter your body, if body is contaminated. If you or your loved ones drink infected water serious gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting among many others, may be experienced. Illnesses caused by contaminated water can particularly be dangerous for the health of elderly and very young children.

What to Do?

The health advisory issued by Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking some precautionary measures to eradicate the chances of contaminated water effecting consumer’s health.

Use Bottled Water

If your tap water is infected, the best option is to go for an alternative source. Bottled water offers you that source. It is also a good source of water if you do not have means to boil your water.

Boil Your Drinking Water

Boiling is the recommended method of sanitizing your water. It effectively kills most of the harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses and makes water safe to drink.

  • Place a water-filled pot on the stove.
  • Heat the water until it the bubbles rise from the bottom to the top.
  • Let the water come to a rolling boil and let it boil for at least one minute.
  • If you are on altitudes higher than 2000m, (6561 feet) boil for three more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the water cool down.
  • When cooled, pour the boiled water in a clean container and cover it up.

Disinfect it

If boiling is not an option for you, and bottled water is not available, disinfecting your drinking water with unscented bleach is the next best thing. Here is how you can do that:

  • If water is cloudy, filter it using a clean cloth.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon of unscented household bleach to 1 gallon of water. If the disinfected water is clear, you can use 1/8th of a teaspoon of bleach.
  • Mix well and wait for 30 minutes, for the chlorinated bleach to disinfect water.
  • Store disinfected water in sanitized containers.

Take Care of Your Containers

You can sanitize your containers by washing them with a disinfectant solution. Mixing one teaspoon of unscented bleach in one liter of water, pouring it in the container and shaking it thoroughly will make the container safe to store clean water.

Water for Food

You must wash edibles like fruit and vegetables with boiled water, in the event of a boil-water advisory. When cooking food, make sure the water is already boiling when you add food in it. When preparing drinks like coffee, kool-aid, sun tea, ice tea, frozen juices, smoothies and lemonade etc. only use boiling water.

Hygiene and Grooming

If a boil-water advisory has been issued, you need to take all the precautions to ensure pathogens do not enter your body.

  • Do not use tap water for brushing your teeth.
  • Try to avoid using tap water for showering, bathing, shaving and washing.
  • If you do use infected water, minimize your bath time and try to ensure water does not get in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • People with cuts or wounds and individuals with compromised immune systems should stay away from contaminated water.

Children and Pets

Very young children and babies are at increased risks for getting sick by ingesting contaminated water. Until the advisory is lifted, make sure to wash and sterilize baby bottles with clean water, use ready to feed formula bottles with a sterilized nipple. Pets can also be infected from some of the same pathogens that are dangerous for humans. Therefore, make sure to give them boiled water to drink.

Filter Out the Pathogens

Boiling your water can be extremely exhausting, especially if the boil-water alert remains effective for longer periods of time. Disinfecting your water with bleach may not give you peace of mind that it is completely safe to drink. The best and most convenient option is to get a filter that guarantees clean and safe to drink water for your household. Whole house water filter makes the most sense.

Whole House Water Filters

To ensure continuous supply of clean and safe water all year long an economical whole house water filter is a great choice. In case of an emergency like boil-water alerts, it can particularly come in handy, as you do not just need clean water for drinking; sanitized water for all household chores is required. 

Depending on the size of your house and your water usage, you can get a multi-level and multi-stage filtration device that can effectively eliminate contaminants like heavy metals such as lead and copper, pesticides, insecticides as well as organic and inorganic chemicals. An Ultra filtration (UF) membrane can effectively remove all bacteria, viruses, parasites, protozoa, colloids, proteins and pyrogens.

An economical and effective water filter can keep you and your family healthy during boil-water alerts.