I Have a Boil Water Alert--Now What?


What is a Boil Water Advisory? 

Your local water provider issues Boil Water Advisories or Notices when there's a potential contamination risk. This can occur after testing detects contamination, during a pressure loss in the distribution system, or if the disinfection system is interrupted (e.g., during a power outage).

Do's and Don'ts When You Get a Boil Water Advisory

When you receive a Boil Water Advisory from your water company:

You should only use boiled tap water or bottled water during these advisories for:

  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Washing vegetables
  • Making coffee/tea
  • Making baby formula 
  • Making ice
  • Giving water to pets
  • Brushing teeth

Can I shower, wash my hands, or wash my dishes without boiling the water? 
You may be able to shower, if you are careful not to swallow the shower water. 

**Always follow the guidance of your water company in each specific circumstance. 

What does boiling my water do? 

Boiling water kills potentially dangerous microorganisms that can cause illnesses. 

What does boiling my water not do? 

Boiling water to purify it does not remove chemicals like lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium 6, PFAS, or barium. The only way to remove these chemicals is by using a quality water filtration system. 

Is a "Boil Water Advisory" the same as a "Do Not Drink Advisory" issued by my water company? 

Not necessarily. 

There are instances when the tap water should not be consumed for other reasons, such as from chemical contamination. In these instances, follow the guidance of your water company. If they issue a "do not drink" advisory, then boiling the water will not help with addressing the issues in the water, and you will need to drink bottled water until the water company gives you the all-clear. 

I have a water filter. Do I still need to follow "boil water" or "do not drink" advisories? 

YES! Most water filters are not rated for removing microorganisms. 

For more details and guidance on what to do during a boil water advisory, the CDC has written a comprehensive guide

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