Frequently Asked Questions During a Boil Water Advisory
Q: What is a Boil Water Advisory?
A: Boil Water Advisory is a recommendation made to residents in a place to only drink tap water if it has been boiled for at least one minute. This recommendation is made to the town to protect the health of its people.
Q: When is a Boil Water Advisory recommended?
A: The Public Health Unit recommends Boil Water Advisories when there is known contamination of the water supply OR when there is a risk of contamination in the water supply.
Q: What can I drink during a Boil Water Advisory?
A: You can drink tap water if it has been boiled for one minute. Cool and store all boiled water in a covered container. If you do not wish to boil your water, you may choose to buy commercially packaged water for drinking.
Q: How will I know when the Boil Water Advisory has been lifted?
A: The Public Health Unit will notify the community when the water is safe to drink without boiling. We will alert local media, institutions (schools, hospitals), restaurants, and community centres.
Q: I drank the water before I realized there was a Boil Water Advisory. Am I going to get sick?
A: The Boil Water Advisory has been recommended as a precaution. If you drank the water before hearing of the advisory, your risk of becoming ill is low. However, if you begin to have fever, diarrhea or vomiting you should seek medical attention. Advise your health care practitioner that you have consumed tap water during the Boil Water Advisory.
Q: I have a dishwasher. Is it safe to use during a Boil Water Advisory?
A: If your dishwasher has a hot/sani-cycle then it can be used, it safely disinfects dishes. If it does not have this setting, after the final cycle, soak dishes for 1 minute in a solution of 30ml (1 oz) of bleach mixed with 13.5 litres (3 gallons) of lukewarm water. Let dishes air dry.
Q: Can I use the water for other purposes?
A: You can use the water for bathing as long as you do not drink it. Supervise babies and children during bathing to ensure that they do not drink the water.
Q: During a Boil Water Advisory, how come restaurants/food premises are still open?
A: When there is a Boil Water Advisory, restaurants/food premises are given very specific orders from the Health Unit as to how to operate. These orders will ensure that the foods being serviced to the public remain safe.
Q: How long is boiled water safe to drink?
A: As long as the water is protected from contamination, it should remain safe to drink. Once the water has been boiled, cover it and place it in the refrigerator for future consumption.
Q: Can my pets drink the water?
A: Pets should be provided boiled water, or water from an alternate source until the boil water advisory is lifted.
Q: Can I use my coffee maker?
A: Most residential coffee makers are not capable of maintaining high temperatures for a long enough period of time to make the water safe to drink. Coffee and tea can be made by using water that has been brought to a rolling boil for a period of one minute or bottled water. If using an automatic shut off kettle, make sure the water has boiled for one minute.
Q: Can I use my activated charcoal filter system (i.e. Brita or other brand names) to treat my water during a Boil Water Advisory?
A: No. These filters are not designed to remove contamination from an unsafe water supply. If you have run the water through your filter during the Boil Water Advisory it could be contaminated. It is recommended that you discard the filter and replace it with a new one once the Boil Water Advisory is over.
Q: How do I safely prepare my baby’s formula during the Boil Water Advisory?
A: Sterilize all bottles, rings, utensils and nipples in boiling water for two minutes. The water mixed with the formula should boil at a rolling boil for at least two minutes, this will sterilize the water.
Health Canada. “Preparing and Handling Powdered Infant Formula”. 2010.
This is the citation for the 2-minutes guideline as it relates to formula prep.
Q: Should I be concerned if the water is yellow?
A: No, the colour of the water should not affect its safety provided it has been boiled for a period of one minute.