Preparing drinking water when you’re under a boil water advisory

Published: Mar. 28, 2017 at 9:41 AM EDT
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

(WRDW/WAGT) – It may not happen all the time, but sometimes a water main break will shut off the water to either a whole street or a whole neighborhood. When this happens, utility companies will issue a boil water advisory to alert residents that they will need to boil their water to avoid contamination and disease.

Sometimes, however, it’s not always convenient to boil your water. The Environmental Protection Agency is offering advice on what you can do when you’re under a boil water advisory in addition to boiling your water.

Use Bottled Water

Use bottled water or water you have properly prepared and stored as an emergency water supply. You can buy gallons of water, or keep gallons of tap water in air-tight non-spoil containers in a dark room or closet.

Disinfect water using household bleach

Yes, you can use regular, unscented chlorine bleach to make drinking water. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.

How do you add bleach to your water? Grab a clean dropper from your medicine cabinet. Take the bleach (the label should say it contains 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite) and add drops based on the volume of water:

- 1 quart/liter: 2 drops

- 1 gallon: 6 drops

- 2 gallons: 12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)

- 4 gallons: 1/4 teaspoon

- 8 gallons: 1/2 teaspoon

The EPA recommends doubling the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy, colored, or very cold. Stir and let stand

for 30 minutes.

The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes before use.

If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use.

When all else fails, boil your water

The World Health Organization says boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. If the water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth or coffee filter. Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Let the water cool naturally and store it in clean containers with covers.

Water tastes flat? You can improve the taste of boiled water by adding one pinch of salt to each quart or liter of water, or pour the water from one clean container to another several times.