A boil water notice is inconvenient but luckily they don’t tend to last for a very long time, and you can get back to using your water normally. It’s clear that during a boil water notice you should boil any water before drinking it. But, here’s a summary of whether it’s OK to shower or bathe when there’s a boil water notice.
As a general rule, you can shower when there is a boil water notice. However, you should be careful not to swallow any water. If bathing is not permitted during a boil water notice a warning can be issued that states not to bath during a specific boil water notice.
There are a range of rare issues that can occur if you bathe in water during a boil water notice, below I will explain what these are so you can be on the lookout for them, and a few guidelines to make sure you reduce the risk of any issues when showering or bathing during a boil water notice.
How To Know if It’s OK To Bathe or Shower During a Boil Water Notice
A boil water notice doesn’t always explicitly state whether it’s OK to bathe or shower while the boil water notice is in effect. But, it’s important to be sure you can bathe or shower to avoid getting sick. So, this is how to know if it’s OK to bathe or shower during a boil water notice.
Unless otherwise stated in the boil water notice, it’s OK to bathe during a boil water notice. The main thing to be wary of is accidentally or intentionally swallowing water while bathing or showering. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give children and toddlers a sponge bath.
According to the Municipal Water Authority of Adams Township, when referring to contaminated water state that it’s also a good idea to not get the water in your mouth, in your eyes, or in your ears. These areas are sensitive and contaminated water is more likely to cause an issue if you do so.
There are many government websites that recommend this, and it’s also the official recommendation of the CDC. The reason to boil water is the very high temperatures will kill any bacteria and bugs that if ingested can give you food poisoning-type symptoms.
For example, you can get stomach cramps, feel nauseous, have a headache, get diarrhea, or experience vomiting. The Quebec government has stated that bathing in unclean water can also produce these symptoms. Typically, bathing during a boil water warning is not enough to bring on these symptoms. But, it can happen. The other symptoms that can occur from bathing in unclean water are:
- Swimmers itch
- Throat, eye, and ear infections
Swimmer’s itch is a fancy name for a type of skin irritation that is caused by small larvae called cercariae. Legionellosis can have mild to reasonably bad symptoms, which can require treatment with antibiotics if they worsen. It’s caused by a bacteria called Legionella pneumophila.
It has a range of symptoms, which are:
- Muscle pain
- Lack of appetite
- Chest pain
- Dry cough
- Blood in phlegm and mucous if you cough
All of these symptoms occur from bathing in water that is not clean. But, are rare to get from bathing or showing in water during a boil water notice. Where possible, it’s best not to wash your face in the shower and use bottled water or boiled water instead.
That way you don’t risk getting it into your eyes. And drastically reduce the risk of getting any of the illnesses caused by using contaminated water.
Recommendations for bathing children during a boil water notice
Children are easily distracted, and can often not follow instructions from parents. Because of this fact, there is a risk if they shower or bathe on their own that they will accidentally get water into their mouth, or eyes.
Therefore, it’s recommended to sponge bath children during a boil water notice. Rather than, do a normal bath. That way you can monitor them more closely, and make sure they don’t get water in their eyes, and mouth. It’s also a good idea to not wash their face with water from the bathtub or shower. And instead, use some lukewarm bottled water or pre-boiled water.
Can You Wash Your Hands When There’s a Boil Water Notice
A boil water notice applies to water being used for cooking and drinking. It’s necessary to wash your hands reasonably often during the day. So, here’s if it’s OK to wash your hands with unboiled water during a boil water notice.
In general, you can wash your hands during a boil water notice. But, dry your hands thoroughly to avoid accidentally ingesting unboiled water during a boil water notice. The CDC has stated it’s perfectly fine, provided you don’t ingest any unboiled water or get it into your ears, eyes, or mouth.
This can happen if you don’t dry your hand thoroughly and then touch your eyes, or mouth. It’s also a good idea to use an antibacterial soap. Doing so will kill most of the bacteria in the water.
Can You Brush Your Teeth During a Boil Water Advisory
It’s best practice when brushing your teeth not to swallow any of the toothpaste and water mix. But, some of the water that you use will remain in your mouth. So, here’s whether it’s ok to brush your teeth during a boil water advisory.
As a general rule, avoid brushing your teeth with unboiled during a boil water advisory. Many Municipal Water Authorities state to avoid getting unboiled water into the ears, eyes, or mouth during a boil water advisory. Use boiled or bottled water for brushing your teeth.
The good thing with brushing your teeth is it doesn’t use a lot of water. So, it’s fairly easy to use some boiled water. Preparing some boiled water into bottles can save time during a boil water notice.
Or, buying a large bottle of bottled water to use for drinking and brushing your teeth. You only need around 1 cup of water to brush your teeth to rinse out your mouth. So, about 2 gallons will be more than enough for 1 week.