Monday morning Austin Water issued a boil water notice following the flooding last week.
The city tells us to do these steps:
Reduce water use as much as possible to ensure adequate supply for basic needs, fire protection, public health and safety.
Boil water intended for drinking. To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and for making ice should be boiled and cooled. The water should be brought to a rolling boil for three minutes.
In lieu of boiling water, use bottled water.
Businesses should not use drinking fountains or soda fountains that rely on tap water.
Use bottled or boiled water for cooking, making ice, washing fruits and mixing soda water.
You can use tap water for doing laundry or washing dishes, but use hot soapy water and rinse the dishes in boiled water.
St. David's Healthcare also tells us in a tweet to use boiled water or bottled water when brushing your teeth. "Any water you ingest or place in your mouth should be disinfected by boiling (and then cooled) or come from an alternate source."
It is safe to shower (please do), but just don't open your mouth and drink the water while showering.
Give pets boiled or bottled water as well, St. David's recommends, because they can get the same illnesses as we can get.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these steps for during a boil water advisory:
Do not serve or consume:
water that has not been disinfected,
ice or drinks made with water that has not been disinfected, or
raw foods rinsed with water that has not been disinfected.
Discontinue service of equipment with water line connections (e.g., water coolers, automatic ice makers, etc.).
Discard ice made prior to the boil water advisory issuance and discontinue making ice. Use commercially-manufactured ice.
For drinking water, use:
and/or water that has been disinfected for Cryptosporidium by:
boiling at a rolling boil for 1 minute (at altitudes greater than 6,562 feet, boil water for 3 minutes)
distilling (water is boiled until it vaporizes and is then condensed back into water).
and/or water hauled from an approved public water supply in a covered sanitized container
and/or water from a licensed drinking water hauler truck.
do not use chemicals such as bleach to disinfect your water
Many water filters do not protect against water-borne illnesses. Look for filters with words like reverse osmosis (with or without NSF 53 or NSF 58 labeling); absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller (with or without NSF 53 or NSF 58 labeling); tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 or NSF/ANSI Standard 58 for cyst removal; or tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 or NSF/ANSI Standard 58 for cyst reduction.
For cooking and food preparation:
Discard any ready-to-eat food prepared with water prior to the discovery of the water contamination.
Prepare/cook ready-to-eat food using the drinking water alternatives listed above and/or restrict the menu to items that do not require water.
For cooking and food preparation equipment/utensils/tableware, use single service/use articles or clean and sanitize equipment/utensils/tableware using the drinking water alternatives listed above. Follow the established procedures to wash, rinse, and sanitize.
Wet hands with the drinking water alternatives listed above and apply liquid, bar, or powder soap. Alcohol gels and hand sanitizers are not recommended to protect against things that could be in the water.
Rub hands together vigorously for 20 seconds, making sure to lather and scrub all surfaces, including backs of hands, wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails.
Rinse hands well with running water – if running water is not available, water may be poured on the hands by another person.
Dry hands with paper towels or an air dryer.
Use the paper towels to turn off the faucet, if applicable.
When the boil water advisory is cancelled:
Flush pipes and faucets. Run cold water faucets continuously for at least 5 minutes.
Flush water coolers. Run coolers with direct water connections for 5 minutes.
Flush home automatic ice makers. Make three batches of ice cubes and discard all three batches.
Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle.
Drain and refill hot water heaters set below 113°F.
Change all point-of-entry and point-of-use water filters, including those associated with equipment that uses water.
What if you've already consumed possibly contaminated water?
St. David's Healthcare tells us that "The likelihood of becoming ill is low." It worries about people with chronic illnesses or are immune compromised.
It does add: Anyone experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, should see a doctor.