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What is a Boil Water Advisory? Get in the “Know”


In the United States and Canada, we assume the water we drink from the tap is safe, but that’s not always the case. Have you ever experienced that lovely alert known as a “Boil Water Advisory”? If so, you have experienced the inconvenience; if not, let us fill you in so if you ever do fall victim to a boil water advisory, you can be prepared.

Some of you may be wondering, what are boil water advisories? Basically, they are a public health advisory given by the government or health authorities to consumers when a community’s drinking water is or could be contaminated by pathogens, a.k.a. bacteria, viruses, protozoa or parasites. Let’s just say, the water can make you sick! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contamination can be caused by a variety of factors, including equipment failure, leaking/broken pipes in the water system or insufficient disinfectant in the water supply. The boil water advisory gives you information so you can take action to protect your health.

The CDC states that boiling water can be used as a pathogen reduction method that should kill all pathogens. Essentially, boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. To ensure water is sterile, it needs to be brought to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Once this is done, the boiled water should be cooled and can then be used for your water needs.

A few quick tips for those who encounter boil water advisories:

Use Tap Water for:

  • Washing clothes (unless water is cloudy)
  • Taking showers (adults and older children)
  • Flushing toilets

Use Boiled Water for:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Preparing food
  • Mixing baby formula
  • Making ice

Proper well and septic system construction and maintenance is the key to helping keep germs out of drinking water and preventing boil water advisories. Regularly testing water and regularly inspecting septic systems also ensures any problems are caught. Remember, when you need your water tested, call the Culligan Man. He has the hook-up for all your water testing needs!

For more information regarding what to do if you experience a boil water advisory, click here.

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