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Frequently Asked Questions About Boil Water Alerts

October 8, 2017  
This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Is my water safe to drink?

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will continually monitor water systems and test the water to ensure that the public water systems are safe.

What if my water system loses pressure?

If water systems lose pressure, MSDH or the water system will issue a boil water notice. However, if your home has lost electrical power or you have noticed a drop in water pressure, you should boil your drinking water until you have been notified your water is safe. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms. MSDH will test water samples collected from water supply systems and must have two consecutive days of clear test samples. It takes MSDH 24 hours to receive test results. Typically, it takes 48 to 72 hours to find out whether water is safe to drink from contaminated water supply systems.

Can I bathe and shave with water?

The water may be used for showering, baths, shaving or washing, as long as one does not swallow the water or allow it in eyes or mouth. Parents should supervise children to make sure water is not ingested, and caregivers should supervise disabled individuals for the same reason. Those with recent surgical wounds, who have a chronic illness or are immunosuppressed should consider using bottled or boiled water for bathing until their boil water notice is lifted.

Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash or prepare food or make ice. Make sure to boil or treat water before use. Drink only bottled, boiled or treated water until your water supply system is tested and found to be safe.

Should I wash fruits and vegetables with water?

Fruits and vegetables should be washed with boiled (then cooled) water, bottled water or water sanitized with 8 drops of unscented household bleach per gallon of water. Ice should be made with boiled, bottled or sanitized water.

Again, you should not use contaminated water to wash and prepare food or make ice. If you use bottled water, make sure you know where it came from. Otherwise, water should be boiled or treated before use.

What organisms can be in contaminated water?

Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms. The major organisms of concern are bacteria such as E. coli and Shigella. These organisms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system and cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting with or without a fever. These illnesses can seriously affect the health of the elderly, very young or those who are immunocompromised.

Is bottled water safe to use?

If you use bottled water, know where it came from. Otherwise, water should be boiled or treated before use. Drink only bottled, boiled or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.

Should I boil my water?

Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms. Water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets or by mixing eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the solution thoroughly, and let stand for about 30 minutes.  However, this treatment will not kill parasitic organisms.  

I get my water from a well. How do I disinfect my well? 

It is important to disinfect both the well and plumbing with chlorine bleach to ensure that all infectious agents are killed. If you have water treatment devices, remove all membranes, cartridges and filters and replace them with new membranes, cartridges or filters after the chlorination process is completed.

The amount of chlorine and the length of time you allow it to remain in your system are equally important. Common unscented laundry bleach can be used effectively as a chlorine disinfectant.

Whom do I contact for additional information?

For more information on hurricane preparedness and safety, the public can call the MSDH toll-free at 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948) or visit www.HealthyMS.com/prepare.

Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.


Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)

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Last reviewed on Oct 8, 2017
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U web@HealthyMS.com
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