What to do during a Boil Water Notice

During a Boil Water Notice tap water should be boiled for one minute. Use any clean pot or kettle.

  • Jul. 29, 2016 3:00 p.m.

During a Boil Water Notice, tap water should be boiled for one minute. Use any clean pot or kettle. Kettles that have automatic shut offs are acceptable.

After boiling, let the water cool by leaving it on the counter or in the refrigerator in covered containers.

After water is boiled it can be stored in food grade containers at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

You can bring back flavour by shaking water in a container, pouring the water between two containers, and/or adding a pinch of salt.

The following general precautions should be followed when there is a boil water notice in effect. Note: precautions may vary depending on the circumstances of the notice.

A boil water advisor means that all water used for drinking purposes should be boiled including water used for making concentrates such as fruit juice, iced tea.

Boiled water only should be used to wash fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked to the boiling temperature.

Coffee machines usually produce water heated to about 70 to 80 degrees Celsius, which is sufficient to destroy pathogens.

This temperature must be maintained for a sufficient amount of time to ensure that all harmful organisms are destroyed. Therefore, let the coffee stand for at least five minutes before drinking.

Brushing teeth This includes daily oral hygiene such as cleaning dentures

Infant formulas should always be prepared by using boiled tap water or bottled water that is boiled.

Making Ice It is important to note that freezing does not destroy most pathogens. Bacteria and viruses can survive in frozen products for long periods of time. Discard any ice made from contaminated or potentially contaminated water.

To be safe postpone home canning and beer and wine making until the boil water notice has been rescinded.

Veterinarians that were consulted by VIHA recommend that drinking water for pets including dogs, cats, birds and reptiles should also be boiled. Information on water quality for livestock can be accessed at the BC Ministry of Environment water quality objectives website .

People who are immune-compromised should always boil their tap water.

Simply put, any water that has a chance of being ingested should be boiled.

Boiled water does not have to be used where cleaners and sanitizers are used to clean food preparation surfaces. Food contact surfaces should be washed with clean water and then sanitized using an acceptable sanitizing agent.

Sanitizing agents for food contact surfaces include unscented household bleach, iodophors, and quaternary ammonia compounds. To prepare stock bleach solutions add 2-4 ml of five per cent bleach per litres of water (1 tablespoon per gallon). This will make a 100 to 200 ppm chlorine solution.

Hand washing using warm water and soap should be sufficient.

Dishes washed by hand should be sanitized for two minutes in a separate sink using a bleach solution (2-4 ml of bleach per litre of water or 1 tablespoon per gallon) after the dishes have been washed and rinsed.

The dishes should then be left to air dry prior to being used.

Attempting to wash and sanitize dishes in the same sink at the same time is not recommended because soap, grease and food particles interfere with the sanitizing process.

Residential home-style dishwashers may not provide a high enough temperature to destroy all pathogens. Dishwashing units that reach 82 degrees Celsius (180 Fahrenheit) for twelve seconds (or an equivalent time-temperature relationship) during the final rinse cycle will destroy pathogens. To optimize dishwasher disinfection you should consider using highest temperature setting possible using the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher.

After the notice is lifted

The Boil Water Notice will be lifted once the water is safe to drink.

After a Boil Water Notice has been lifted:

Flush all water-using fixtures for one minute.

Run cold-water faucets and drinking fountains for one minute before using the water.

Drain and flush all ice-making machines in your refrigerator.

Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle.

Drain and refill hot water tanks set below 45 C (normal setting is 60 C).

Change any pre-treatment filters (under sink style and refrigerator water filters, carbon block, activated carbon, sediment filters, etc.).

Although there are alternatives, not all of them will be feasible or practical in all situations. In part, it will depend on how much water you need and what you need it for. Safe alternatives to boiling water include:

Using commercially prepared bottled water,

Obtaining water from an approved source that is not on a boil water notice.

If the water is clear and boiling water is not practical, there are guidelines available for the use of bleach.


For more information go to www.viha.ca/mho/environment/water_quality/boil_water_notices/.