How to deal with a boil advisory caused by a water leak

It is not uncommon for homes located near a water main break to be put under a water boil advisory. Why? These leaks often cause a loss of pressure due to the broken line, which may result in harmful bacteria contaminating the water. Until the affected areas are able to consistently pass water tests, homes will remain under such an advisory. Here are some precautions homeowners should take when dealing with a water boil advisory:

During the advisory:

  • Before using water for cooking or consumption, it should be boiled for at least one minute. The boil should be vigorous and bubbly. Once it is cooled, it should be safe for use.
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency indicates that showering or bathing during a water boil advisory is safe. Parents should, however, take preventative measures when bathing infants to ensure they do not swallow any of the bath water.
  • When washing dishes during a water boil advisory, hot soapy water should be used. Add one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of dish water. Take the added precaution of rinsing the dishes in boiled water.
  • Those affected should not forget to boil water when brushing teeth, cooking, drinking, washing foods, making ice and giving pets water.

After the advisory
To ensure all contaminated water has been eliminated from a home’s water lines once the advisory has been lifted, there are a few simple steps homeowners take:

  • Run all cold faucets in the home for about a minute to flush the water lines. Any direct water connections should run for five minutes before they are safe to use.
  • If the refrigerator has an automatic ice maker, toss the first three batches of ice it makes after the advisory.
  • Even if faucets or refrigerators have a filter system, it is still necessary to flush the lines. These filters will not remove all harmful bacteria that may be present.
  • Anyone suffering from diarrhea, cramps, nausea, or headaches during a boil advisory may have consumed contaminated water. In these instances, seek medical attention immediately.

Residents of Tuscola, Illinois, and Leonardtown, Maryland, have recently found themselves dealing with these issues. In Tuscola, the water leak has been repaired and officials are waiting for the water to pass the necessary testing. Residents of the affected area in Leonardtown remained under the advisory for more than two days until it was lifted.

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