Boil water advisories have frequently cropped up since weather following the polar vortex thawed and caused numerous busted water lines, leaving some residents wondering how to handle the latest round of warnings about water safety.
When the Boyd County Health Department was flooded with incoming calls with boil advisory questions following Boyd’s state of emergency water situation, it released a few useful tips for residential customers:
Kristy Bolen, senior regional epdemiologist for FIVCO, said the most common questions from residents are about built-in filters in refrigerators, sinks and other types of filtration systems for drinking water and if they are effective enough to bypass boiling.
“The big thing I’m encouraging them to do is check what your filter recommendations are,” she said. “Most of the time on the packaging it will say if it filters out bacteria or not; some do, some don’t. Filters aren’t generally made to filter out bacteria like pathogens.”
If the filters are not equipped to sift out the bacteria, Bolen encourages people to boil their water like everyone else.
In her tips, she instrcuted to heat a large pot of water (size depending on how much water a person needs) on a stove until it comes to a rolling boil for at least three minutes and allow to cool completely before using.
The main concern for the advisory seems to be keeping people from ingesting the possibly contaminated water, but hygenic activities can continue as normal.
“I think part of the confusion with our residents comes from the situation that just happened in Charleston, where officials were saying don’t bathe in it, drink it or do anything, but that was chemical issue, not boil water advisory. It’s OK to wash your face, wash your hands, take a shower,” she said.
Bolen said these advisories are primarily in place to prevent those with weak immune systems and infants from drinking water that may have E. Coli or bacteria from water running through newly repaired pipes to invade their system with E. Coli or Crypto Sporidiosis, bacteria she said average, healthy adults can usually fend off.
She pointed out the most vulnerable time for unintentional water ingestion is in the shower and encourages parents to be extra careful with their children.
“For instance, for my 6-year-old, I used a hand-held shower wand, just to be safe in keeping the water from running into her face,” she said.
Other tips included boiling water for pets, using boiled water (that is later cooled) for washing all food and continuing to boil water until the advisory is completely lifted.
These tips are mostly for the use of residential water customers in Greenup and Boyd County, who are currently under boil water advisories until further notice while crews work to repair water lines. Restaraunts and other regional businesses can visit abchealthdepartment.com or cdc.gov.
Bolen also warns not to call 911 emergency services with quesitons related to boiling water; instead contact local health department offices or city management.
LANA BELLAMY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653.