What is a Water Boil Advisory

Hurricane season is coming up. During this period, flooding is pretty common. In prior years, you may have heard on the news that a local government has issued a boil water advisory. What are these, and when do they occur? Boil water advisories are public alerts to boil water before drinking it. They come in precautionary and mandatory versions and are issued when pathogens are detected in the water supply.

Precautionary advisories can be from things such as water main breaks or sudden pressure drops. This creates a situation where contaminants can enter the water supply. These occur more often than mandatory boil water advisories. Mandatory water boil advisories come when there is a confirmed contamination. For example, E.coli, bacteria, or parasites may be present. The water boil advisory remains until these organisms are removed from the water distribution system. Once the problem is gone, the water boil advisory is canceled.

What to Do During a Water Boil Advisory

First thing’s first: Do NOT drink the water without boiling it. They’re called water boil advisories because water must be boiled before using it. Water needs to boil for one minute at a rolling boil and then cooled. A secondary water supply, like bottled water, is always recommended for these moments. Boil water you intend to use for cooking, drinking, freezing into ice, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, and cleaning wounds. Do this until the advisory expires.

You should also throw out any food or ice prepared with water when the advisory begins. Avoid swallowing water in the shower or letting it get into your ears. Avoid showering with open wounds, too – Only use boiled water for first aid. Pets should also be protected – Don’t give them unboiled tap water.

Keep in mind that most consumer-grade filters won’t stop microorganisms. During a water boil advisory, charcoal filter water jugs or faucet attachments won’t protect you. These advisories often last a minimum of 48 hours. In reality, it can take several days. There must be two days in a row of “clean” test results before lifting the advisory. Test results take a full day to process, so you should plan on at least a week without water.

After a Water Boil Advisory Ends

You usually won’t have to “flush” your pipes when the advisory ends. But, if you do, you’ll be informed. Of course, you may still choose to run the faucets with cold water if you wish. Automatic ice makers will need to run a few cycles to remove old water, and refrigerator filters should be changed. Aside from this, you can use water normally again.

One Important Note

Everything we’ve written only applies to city water! Well water is not connected to the city’s water supply at all. So if you see a water boil advisory and you have a well, don’t panic. Well water can indeed become contaminated in the case of floods, but a water main break in the city shouldn’t affect you. If it happens close to your home, you may wish to test your water, but this may not be necessary either.

As the owner of a private water well, you can feel secure in having access to clean, delicious water all year round. Some events can warrant testing, but a properly maintained well should never fail you. If you’d like to get started with a well water system of your own, contact us today – Or visit our website to learn more.