How to Survive a Boil Water Notice

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This may come as a surprise to you, but boil water notices happen in the United States more than you may think. Should your area ever experience one and you choose to ignore your local officials’ warnings, someone in your family could end up very sick. Some people have never experienced a boil water notice before and may not know what to do. I’m here to give you a few pointers on how to survive a boil water notice if your community ever is faced with one. 

What is a Boil Water Notice?

A boil water notice will be issued when a local health agency or a municipal water supplier discovers that there are pathogens in their area’s water supply. Those pathogens could be anything detected like Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, and more. But those aren’t the only reasons for a boil water notice. This can happen when there is a main water break, severe weather, flooding, or evidence of lead in the water.

A boil water notice could last anywhere from a couple of hours to several weeks or months. While many people can wait around to hear about it on the news, you do have access to this information on your local municipal water company’s website. There you will find procedures that they have for such an event, whether the company will issue information promptly by text, email, social media, or on their website. 

How to Survive a Boil Water Notice

How to Survive a Boil Water Notice 

Now that you have a better understanding of what a boil notice is, the best way to survive one is for you and your family to prepare for it before it happens. During a contaminated water situation, you may, or may not be told what is exactly wrong with your tap water. That’s why it’s critical that you listen closely to what they say about what you can and cannot use your tap water for during this time. 

They should provide specifics such as not safe for drinking, ice-making, or cooking. If they go a step further and tell you that your tap water shouldn’t be used for laundry or bathing, you will know that your water is unsafe for you to even touch. If this is the case, I’d encourage you just to go ahead and shut off your home’s main water valve. 

If you don’t have a way to boil water if your electricity is cut off, consider getting a Butane Stove. I bought one for all 4 daughters so they have a way to boil water or cook a meal after a disaster.  

Boil Your Water

How to Survive a Boil Water Notice

When there is boil water notice issued for your area, you will need to boil your tap water before you can do any of the following: 

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Cooking/making drinks 
  • Making baby formula
  • Making ice
  • Giving your pet’s water

In order to properly boil water, first, check to see if it’s cloudy. If it is, you will need to use a coffee filter, paper towel, or clean cloth to help filter out the sediments. You will then need to put your water on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. This should kill any bacteria or other pathogens that may be in your water. If you live in a higher elevation of more than 6,500 feet, allow the water to boil for a minimum of 3 minutes. Allow your water to cool before using or storing it.  

Read More of My Articles  You Need This Much Water To Store For Survival

Stock Up on Bottled Water 

During a boil water issue, your number one concern should be making sure that your family stays hydrated in the meantime. You will need to stock up on enough bottled water that you can use to drink, cook, and possibly bathe with. To get a better idea of how much to stock up on, pay close attention to how much water everyone in your home uses over the next week. Use that consumption information to calculate what may be needed for a few days, a week, or longer.

If you are simply looking for a rough estimate, 7 packages of 40 pack bottled water should last a family of four for about a week. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how much water you should store if you’re thinking about having more than a week’s supply of it. If you have a baby that drinks formula, you will need to take that into consideration as well.

Use The Water You Have Stored    

By now you know, this is why we store water for our family. We never know when our water may become tainted, contaminated, or shut off. Please stock 4-gallons of water per person per day for each family member. Yes, this may seem excessive, but I get thirsty just thinking about 1-gallon per day as suggested by some government agencies and The American Red Cross. It’s all about being prepared. In case you missed this post, How To Store Water-Pros And Cons

Use the Water from Your Water Heater

If your situation lasts for a longer period of time and all your local grocery stores are completely out-of-stock of water, you will need to find a backup solution to hold you over. As it turns out, your water heater may have close to 30-50 gallons stored in it. That will provide some relief. Here’s how to use the water that is stored in your water heater. Note: if you’ve been running water through the heater BEFORE you heard about the need to boil, it may be too late to use it right out of the heater itself, unless you do boil it first.

Please keep in mind, I never count on my water heater water, just in case we have an unexpected situation where our city/county water may become contaminated. I’m not talking just about terrorist attacks, I’m talking about errors made by city water employees connecting water lines. It has happened several times over the last few years, right here in Utah!

Here is one: Sandy, Utah Water. This one still makes me crazy thinking about it: Syracuse, Utah Water. And here is yet another one: Magna, Utah Water. I’ve told you before I will not drink city water right out of the tap, I have reverse osmosis. I highly recommend getting a system installed. If you are handy with plumbing you can install one yourself. Remember that these systems come in various terms of effectiveness and may not remove metal contaminants. Be sure to check the list of things it removes so you have the best protection possible.

Read More of My Articles  How To Make Your Own Emergency Car Kit

The maintenance is once a year, cleaning out the tubes and installing new cartridges. I spend $115.00 a year to have mine cleaned, serviced, and cartridges replaced. Mine is hooked to my kitchen sink, so I use it for drinking and cooking. I know Costco sells them, possibly Sam’s Club. Mine looks just like this one: Reverse Osmosis Unit. They do not use electricity, they are water pressure-driven.

We have all heard about the Flint, Michigan nightmare, right? That situation is so sad for all the families involved. Flint Michigan Water

Stock Up on Bathing/Baby Wipes

Should you have to use the water supply from your water heater for drinking, etc., you won’t be using it to take showers. That’s why I’d encourage you to have no-rinse bathing wipes to help keep your family clean and deodorized. Baby wipes are another option you could use. 

Consider Staying with Friends or Family

Don’t wait around until your situation becomes desperate, because you shouldn’t have to. As long as you have friends or family living outside of the boil water notice, I’m sure someone would be willing to take your family in until your area’s water situation improves. If not, you could rent a hotel room as a last resort. 

Set Family Rules During Boil Notice Days

If you have kids or grandchildren running around your house during this time, things can become a bit more difficult. After all, kids are accustomed to being able to turn on the faucet to grab a drink or to wash their hands anytime they want. You will have to enforce a few household rules during a boil water notice to keep everyone safe. These are a few simple ones anyone could follow: 

  • Drink only from bottled water 
  • Avoid using any faucet (put a sticky note on the handle of every faucet if you have to)   
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth and wash your face
  • Instead of using soap and water, use hand sanitizer 

Final Word

When you’re not completely sure whether your water is safe or not, be sure to use more caution. Boiling your water or having bottled water on hand is a great way to make sure that no one in your family gets sick. What tips can you give on how to survive a boil water notice? May God Bless this world, Linda. 

Other Content to Check Out:

Water is the Number One Thing We Need to Survive

Why You Need Emergency Water Storage

How to Calculate Your Water Needs for Survival

Copyright Images: Tea Kettle with Boiling Water Deposit photos_82816484_s-2019, Boiling Water Deposit photos_133082290_s-2019

     

19 thoughts on “How to Survive a Boil Water Notice

  • February 27, 2021 at 7:31 am
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    Hey there Linda! We had a boil water notice last week. We didn’t find out until the third day. Luckily, we didn’t get sick. We had no idea about it. Our neighbor told us about it. We do have a water filter that we use for drinking and cooking. But we also have a water cooler that I use. We do have extra 5 gallon water bottles. The only way we can find out about the boil water notice is on the website.

    Reply
    • February 27, 2021 at 9:57 am
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      Hi Deborah, this is why I have a reverse osmosis unit. I do not trust the government, city, or county letting us know about contaminated water. A Berkey works great too! Stay safe and stay ahead of the game. Linda

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      • February 27, 2021 at 10:10 am
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        I think ours has the reverse osmosis on ours, too. It has 5 different filters on it. We got it because our brass fittings in the toilet take we’re getting eaten up by the water. I didn’t want to drink it or cook with it. I wash dishes with the tap water, but use the filtered for drinking and cooking. I also use the water cooler. It also has hot water, but I do t turn it on unless I’m making a cup of tea. I don’t leave it on all the time.

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        • February 27, 2021 at 10:17 am
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          The main problem for the ones on our water service, is we had no notice. Who goes the water company website daily? Or even several times a day? I didn’t even know they had one. I don’t like the idea that I have to be on social media or check the website to find out about the boil water notices. I’m so glad that we have the water filter and use it. As well as the water cooler that uses 5 gallon jugs of water.

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        • February 27, 2021 at 10:37 am
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          Hi Deborah, oh I used to have the hot and cold water cooler. They are awesome. Now I only have RO for cooking and drinking. I swear I’m a water brat, it has to taste good without any chemicals!! Linda

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          • February 27, 2021 at 11:50 am
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            I guess I’m a water snob, too. I don’t want to smell or taste the chlorine in water, or anything else. Just good sweet water. I don’t drink individual water from bottles either. The taste is OK, but I’ve read they have small plastic particles in it. With my kidney disease, I want to take care of what I drink.

          • February 27, 2021 at 12:04 pm
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            Hi Deborah, oh yeah, kidney disease, you need the best! We can be water snobs together! LOL! Linda

  • February 27, 2021 at 7:45 am
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    I almost laughed at the title of “how to survive” but the last few weeks have really shown me how hard it is for many people to wrap their heads around what I consider little more than a minor inconvenience especially since, in most cases, it’s temporary.

    I was with someone when they received a phone call from a lady absolutely melting down because their water had stopped running. A main had burst and even when they got it on there was going to be a boil order. They had stored water in the tub to flush and had bottled water to drink but she was fighting with her husband to drive across town and stay in a hotel, which of course he was refusing. Her reasoning was because she couldn’t cook to which the reply was you can’t cook at the hotel either.

    Stay calm, use your head to think outside of the box, embrace discomfort or as we used to say “embrace the suck” and you’ll find it’s really not bad.

    A little preparedness goes a long ways. You’ve got great resources on here to help those willing to help themselves.

    If you know it’s coming and time and resources are limited (aka the freeze killed north Texas and is coming south my way so I’ve only got hours) you can prefill all the Tupperware type containers in your house as well as the pots. Fill all the cups n glasses and set a sheet pan over them. Got an ice chest? Crock Pot? Balloons or rubber gloves (store in a sink in case of rupture), house trash cans (toilet flushing water only) ?
    Well fill it.

    Reply
    • February 27, 2021 at 9:54 am
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      Hi Matt, oh my gosh the cooking story is the best!! It’s so funny, I wrote this because I realize people need a little help to think outside the box. Now, I have the giggles, balloons, rubber gloves, you made my day! We can do this!! Linda

      Reply
  • February 27, 2021 at 9:20 am
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    I’ve not had to go through a boil notice before so this is good info for me. That said, this is one of the kinds of emergencies that I’m prepared for!

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    • February 27, 2021 at 9:55 am
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      Hi Leanne, I know you’re prepared, it feels so good to know we will survive a boil water notice with little effort! You rock! Linda

      Reply
  • February 27, 2021 at 10:38 am
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    living in the country, we are on a community well service. We have boil water notices quite often. I however am not able to drink the well water even when it’s considered safe. They put so many chemicals in it that it literally makes me sick. So since 1984 when we moved her, I have always bought bottled water for drinking. We did install an RO filter system about 10 years ago, which has been a life saver for us. And During the recent storms and power failures, we had bottles of non-potable water for flushing the toilets. I have a CPAP machine and I fill the empty distilled water bottles with tap water for emergencies just like that. I mark an X on the bottles so everyone in the home knows not to drink that water. Even my 4 year old grand daughter knows which water is safe and which is not safe. Thank you again for another informative post. I love reading all your posts . God Bless and stay sfae.

    Reply
    • February 27, 2021 at 11:50 am
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      Hi Judy, if you are changing your Reverse Osmosis filters every year, do you still have to buy filtered water? I love hearing about the X on the bottles! We all need a black magic marker! My RO unit lasted 12 years and then I had to replace it. It is so worth it, stay safe! Linda

      Reply
  • February 27, 2021 at 1:52 pm
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    yes I buy distilled water for my CPAP machine as that’s what the company said to use in it. I asked about my RO system water and got a big no from them.

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    • February 27, 2021 at 6:13 pm
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      Hi Judy, that’s good to know. I use my RO for my humidifiers. Linda

      Reply
  • February 28, 2021 at 4:46 am
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    Linda,

    When I got my All American Sun Oven it came with several accessories, among them a Water Pasteurization device they call a WAPI. It’s basically a plastic tube with a wax plug in it. Put it in the water you are heating and when the water temp reaches 165 the wax melts and the tube flips from horizontal to vertical.

    The reason I’m mentioning WAPI’s is because you do NOT need to boil water to render it safe to drink. Simply pasteurizing it does that. The advantage to pasteurization over boiling is that it uses less fuel and is quicker.

    Of course it’s a good idea to have a water filtration device like an AquaRain 400, Big Berkey, or a Reverse Osmosis system. You can even use water purification tablets or regular bleach (unscented) to do the job.

    Reply
    • February 28, 2021 at 6:48 am
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      Hi Ray, oh my gosh, I forgot about the WAPI, I got one as well. I better take some pictures and add that! It’s so awesome to have friends like you that remind me, I love it. Thank you, Linda

      Reply

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