Boil Water Advisory: What it Means and What to Do

In short, a boil water advisory is simply a precautionary measure in which water customers are advised to boil their tap water prior to using it. These advisories are issued following events that could have allowed bacteria to infiltrate the water distribution system. Widespread loss of system pressure, natural disasters, and large water main breaks can all prompt boil water advisories.

What to Do During a Boil Water Advisory

When a boil water advisory has been issued in your area, it should be taken seriously. Boiling your water removes harmful bacteria that could cause illness, but to ensure proper sanitation, you need to boil your water for 1 minute. Fill a pot with water, and heat it until bubbles start coming from the bottom to the top. Once a rolling boil is reached, let the water continue to boil for 1 minute. Then, remove from heat and allow the water to cool. Pour into a clean container and cover until ready to use.

During a boil water advisory, do not use any ice machines, soda dispensers or coffee makers that are connected to directly to your water line. Coffee, tea and ice should be made using boiled or bottled water. Filtration systems do not kill or remove viruses or bacteria, so they are not an adequate substitution for boiling.

Vegetables and fruits should be washed using bottled or cooled boiled water.  Cooking surfaces, such as cutting boards, should be cleaned with boiled water. Washing dishes in your dishwasher is fine, as long as the temperature reaches at least 160 degrees or if your dishwasher has a built-in sanitize cycle. Dishes can be washed by hand using normal tap water and then soaked for at least 1 minute in a separate basin containing a solution of 1 teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of warm water.

You should not use tap water to brush your teeth, but showing or bathing is safe, as long as you do not swallow any water or have open wounds. Laundry can be washed as usual. If you have pets, give them bottled or boiled water that has been cooled.

After the Boil Advisory Has Been Lifted

Once you have been notified that a boil water advisory has been lifted, flush all of your household pipes and faucets. Your utility company may provide instructions on how to do this. If not, a general guideline is to run cold water faucets for 3 minutes each if they haven’t been used within the past 24 hours.

Flush automatic ice makers by making three batches of ice cubes and throwing them away. If your water heater is set below 113 degrees, drain and refill.

A Phoenix boil water advisory is not something that you should ignore. Advisories are issued to ensure the health and safety of you and your family, and it is wise to take all of the recommended precautions. If you have any questions, please contact your water company or call Plumbing Masters at 602-296-1127.

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