Boil Water Orders

SO, WHY A BOIL ORDER? - Link to current alerts/advisories

Boil water advisories and boil water orders are public announcements advising the public that they should boil their tap water for drinking and for other uses noted below. They are preventative measures issued to protect public health from waterborne infectious agents that could be or are known to be present in drinking water. Usually, they are a result of broken water lines or equipment replacement work and typically go into effect only for the downstream customers. Boil water orders are issued by either the local public health unit or other responsible authority, or by the water utility.

If a boil order is issued, EMWC will notify all members on our web page and via local media (Herald Times and radio 91.3, 95.1, 96.7, and 105.1 FM). We will also send an email to members that have provided us with their address. When the boil order affects only a small number of members, a door-hanging notice will be hand delivered to each affected household.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT? BOIL WATER?

Yes…but there are some specifics about handling water and other water products in your home. Here are some steps to put into action.

First, boil water vigorously for three minutes prior to use. Use only boiled water for drinking, diluting fruit juices, and all other food preparation. To improve the flavor of the flat taste of boiled water, store in the refrigerator and pour back and forth from one clean and sanitized container to another (or try adding a pinch of salt per quart of boiled water). Put a cup over your faucets as a reminder to not use untreated water—even to brush your teeth!

Water also could be disinfected rather than boiled. To disinfect water intended for drinking or cooking, add one teaspoon unscented chlorine laundry bleach for every five gallons of water. Let stand for 30 minutes before using. Be sure to use sanitized food grade containers for storing water.

To disinfect water storage containers, pour a solution of one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach to a gallon of water into a container. Let the solution remain in the container for 10 minutes, then pour out the solution. Rinse with purified water. Add boiled or disinfected water. Store for up to six months.

Next, dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic ice maker. Then, you will need to disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water. Allow surfaces to air dry. You may use a dishwasher if it has a sanitizing cycle. If not, hand wash and disinfect as described above. Disposable tableware is an option and much simpler.

The health department also recommends to have a “sanitizing rinse” to wash hands. Again use the one teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water and rinse hands frequently by pouring the rinse over the hands. Air dry or use a paper towel.

Finally, water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled, but minimize the time spent in the water and be sure to keep your eyes and mouth closed. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing or using backyard pools so water is not ingested. Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians. Although pets are not normally affected by the same diseases as humans, caution suggests giving pets pre-boiled or bottled water.

 

HOW LONG WILL THE BOIL ORDER REMAIN IN EFFECT?

Each boil order situation is different, making it impossible to predict how long it will remain in effect. It will not be lifted until two consecutive daily tests show that the water meets public health standards (test analyses are conducted by certified laboraties during business days). At that time, EMWC will notify all members on our web page and via local media (Herald Times and radio 91.3, 95.1, 96.7, and 105.1 FM). An email will also be sent to members on file. For boil orders issued with door-hanging notices, affected members will be contacted when the order is lifted.