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The Ultimate Boil Water Advisory Guide

boil water advisory notice alert rocky mountain water distillers

Imagine an order to boil any water that comes out of your faucet before using it. Does it sound like something out of a disaster movie?

This is a boil order or boil water advisory, and it can turn your life upside down. If you've watched the movie Erin Brockovich, you'll know what kind of affects these have on your life.

REAL-LIFE BOIL ORDER STORY... Why didn't you tell everyone they were drinking dead animal for the last week?

It's worse than a disaster movie or a creepy horror movie where you find out aliens are taking over peoples body through the water! (cue the scary off-pitch music as the camera shows what look like a regular home, on a regular street, in a regular city).

contaminated tap water in home RMWDIt's worse because this is real. This happened to my neighbors, on my street in my town. We went to a neighborhood event and found out there were a ton of people who were at home sick. Come to find out there was at least one person in every home who was sick in our neighborhood of about 400 homes. They were vomiting and had diarrhea.  What do you do when you are sick with these symptoms... you guessed it, stay hydrated and drink more water. ;)

Then a few days later the city health official announced a "boil water advisory" was in effect and that all water must be boiled because it was not safe. All the water was cleared out of Walmart is just a few hours.  Then a few days later the deep, dark secret broke... the city health official knew there was a water contamination that had happened over 1 week ago. They were trying to get it fixed and cover it up before they had to do a public health announcement and look bad to the public. Now about a week later with so many people sick they were forced to come clean.

e coli ecoli close upSo everybody in the city had been drinking E. Coli for the past 7 days. They would vomit and use the bathroom and then drink more "E. coli contaminated city tap water" (because at that time the truth was hidden).  It was really sad and a lot of people were really mad because of the outbreak.

Luckily for our family we have a water distiller. None of us were sick! We didn't even know everyone was sick until we went to the neighborhood event. Then after the announcement was made about the E.coli, we had neighbors come to our house to get some clean and pure drinking water! It was actually a real blessing to be able to help our friends and neighbors.  Even though we clearly didn't have enough water to help all 400 homes, we did make a difference. 

So what really happened after the investigation... a ditch water pipe had been connected to a drinking water pipe and that contaminated the city's tap water system.  Why didn't they tell everyone they were drinking dead animals for a week?

This is the reason why we created this SMARTWATER NEWS blog post to help you understand what a boil order is and how to protect your family. Honestly if you are at all worried about your water don't wait for the city to tell you to boil your water... that's what my neighbors did and they got sick. When in doubt boil your water no matter if it's just an alert. Fortunately our family was protected with a Durastill Water Distiller which kills off virus, bacteria and more, but here is what you need to know about these orders and what options you have for improving your water supply.

Boil Water Advisory/Boil Order vs. Boil Alert: the Difference

When understanding the difference between a boil order and a boil alert, remember that the order is the warning. The alert makes you aware of potential problems, but water is usable if desired.

When a boil alert is issued, be aware the water is safe enough for use. It is in your best interests to boil the water for at least two minutes before consumption.

A boil order means contamination has been identified and boiling is imperative for safety. In these cases, all water must be boiled before using for:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Making baby formula
  • Giving as drinking water for pets
  • Making food

If you don't want to boil, bottled water is a safe alternative. Note that water for cleaning the house, laundry, and showering still remains safe for use.

What Causes a Boil Water Advisory (aka Boil Order)

Many people don't understand why a boil order would occur. Doesn't the city ensure water is clean before it comes to someone's home?

While local water treatment plants are responsible for water, unexpected containments sometimes slip through the system. Natural causes, also known as acts of God, are key in causing a boil order.

Problems that occur because or hurricanes, flooding, or excessive storms bring contaminants into a water treatment plant. Other possibilities include a change in water pressure or loss of power in the area.

When this happens, it's necessary to issue an order. Individuals would unknowingly use the water and become sick, even needing hospitalization, depending on the water.

Who's in Charge Here

When boil alerts and orders are issued, the city is usually the deciding factor behind them. If the majority of water for an area is supplied by an independent company, they will let residents know.

When it's decided the public needs to stop using the water, alters and orders are issued. Ways to do this include:

  • Mailing notices
  • Posting announcements online and around the neighborhood or community
  • Emailing people and using social media
  • Calling residents

If you find out about an alert or order, let friends, family, and neighbors in the area know. It helps to have everyone on board, so they don't get sick and can take precautions for sensitive individuals in their homes, such as children and the elderly.

The Three Common Reasons for Boil Orders

Many different reasons can cause a city or company to issue a boil order. Here are the top three reasons these would occur:

E. coli Detected

e coli ecoli in water E. coli is a type of bacteria that is associated with fecal matter. Although the majority of E. coli does not pose a threat, there are strains that are harmful, and make even healthy individuals sick. 

E. coli causes those who are infected to have diarrhea and vomiting. There is usually no fever, making it apparent the cause is not related to a virus. 

Since this type of E. coli is the result of fecal matter present in water, avoiding it until the water is clean again is crucial. Continuously consuming water infected with E. coli means you run the risk of becoming dehydrated.

Cryptosporidium in Water

Cryptosporidium-in-WaterCryptosporidium is a parasite that affects the intestines. It takes about a week for individuals to detect that they have this parasite in their bodies.

Symptoms vary and include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, a fever, and feeling dehydrated. This is a lingering issue and can last up to a month, even in individuals who are healthy.

Because this strain of bacteria is persistent, it's important to avoid water that has tested positive for having it. These parasites can survive water in a variety of temperatures.

Broken or Damaged Infrastructure

When natural disasters occur, broken and damaged infrastructure is common. This means the systems used in water treatment centers to ensure water is clean are not working properly.

Because the structures are broken or otherwise damaged, parasites and bacteria cannot be flushed away. This puts you and your family at risk for a variety of illnesses that aren't easily detected.

Until the structures are fixed, avoid drinking water unless it is boiled or from a bottle. This is the best preventative measure until it's confirmed that the equipment is working properly.

Alternatives to Boiling

Being under a boil order is frustrating for many people. You don't want to put yourself or family at risk, but you need water for so much when it comes to cooking and drinking.

Using bottled water is an alternative some folks prefer. They don't need to wait for the water to cool and it's ready for them to use.

This method is effective but adds up in cost quickly. If your family uses a lot of water, you'll have to buy enough cases to last.

Water distillers are another option. They work in commercial establishments or a house.

The distiller ensures the water is clean, stored, and ready to use when the time calls for it. It's a safe alternative to boiling with clean water to use for any purpose.

Get Help Today

If you find yourself under a boil order and don't want to continuously boil water, you have options.

Contact us today, and see how we can help you have water that is safe, clean, and ready to use at a moment's notice. We can save you money while keeping your family well-stocked with all the water you need.