Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes boiled, bottled, |
or treated water. Remember:
• Do not use contaminated water to wash your hands, wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice, or make baby formula. If
possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added. And if you
have it, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands.
• If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before
you use it. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your supply is tested
and found safe.
• Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most
• When boiling water is not practical, you can treat water with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets, or unscented household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium
— If you use chlorine tablets or iodine tablets, follow the directions that come
with the tablets.
—If you use household chlorine bleach, add 1/8 teaspoon (~0.75 mL) of
bleach per gallon of water if the water is clear. For cloudy water, add 1/4
teaspoon (~1.50 mL) of bleach per gallon. Mix the solution thoroughly and let it
stand for about 30 minutes before using it.
Use a bleach solution to rinse water containers before reusing them. Use water storage tanks
and other types of containers with caution. For example, fire truck storage tanks and previously
used cans or bottles may be contaminated with microbes or chemicals. Do not rely on untested
devices for decontaminating water.
Is my well water safe to drink?
Well water, like water from public water companies, may become contaminated as a result of
flooding. Hunterdon residents with questions about if their wells may have been affected and
what disinfection procedures they should use should see the recommendations below. Also,
depending on flood conditions, it might be necessary to check with the Hunterdon County
Department of Health to determine what steps should be taken in specific geographic areas.
What about water from a public water company?
Recent flooding due to a hurricane may compromise or contaminate some water supplies,
including the water coming from large public water companies. In these incidences, state and
local officials usually monitor water quality very carefully to ensure that any potential
contaminants are identified quickly and everyone is informed appropriately. In addition, water
companies normally issue official advisories stating that consumers should boil or treat their
water, use bottled water or other alternatives until water quality returns to a safe level.
If a public water company serves you, call your local water supplier to determine if the water is
affected and if you need to boil or treat the water before using it for clean up and consumption.
What’s the proper way to disinfect water so it’s safe to drink?
The preferred method of treatment is boiling. Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and
parasites. Bring water to a full ROLLING boil for at least 1 minute to kill most infectious
organisms. If boiling water is not possible (power outages) potentially contaminated water may
be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets. However, this treatment will not kill parasitic
organisms. To disinfect with chlorine mix six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, ordinary
household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the
solution thoroughly, and let stand for about thirty minutes. To disinfect using iodine put eight
drops of 2% tincture of iodine in one quart of water. Allow the water to stand at least 30
minutes before it is used.
What infectious organisms might be present in contaminated water?
Disease transmission from contaminated water occurs principally by ingesting water. The
major organisms of concern are parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and bacteria
such as Shigella and E. coli. These organisms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system,
causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting with or without fever. Most of these
illnesses are not usually serious or life threatening, except in the elderly or those immunocompromised.
If your hands have touched contaminated water, keep them away from your face. You
shouldn’t eat, smoke or wipe your face until you have washed your hands in sanitary
water. Disease organisms from contaminated water can enter your body orally.
What if I’ve already consumed potentially contaminated water?
Even if you consume potentially contaminated water from either a public water system or a
private well before you were aware of the boil water advisory, the likelihood of becoming ill is
very low. Anyone experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis, such as diarrhea, nausea,
vomiting, abdominal cramps, with or without fever, should seek medical attention.
In what other activities should I avoid using potentially contaminated water?
Contaminated water should NOT be used for drinking, making prepared drinks, ice making,
brushing teeth, washing food or preparing food, or for pets. Water may be added to foods that
will undergo a rolling boil for at least 1 minute.
For more discussion on this, see the following links here:
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