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