Boil Water Notice FAQs

Boil water notices are common in Southwest Florida, caused by water main breaks, construction mistakes, disruptions at the water treatment plant and natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. The typical notice is issued as a precaution until water samples can be collected and analyzed.

Why are boil water notices necessary?

When the pressure in lines that transport potable water falls below 20 pounds per square inch, a boil water notice is issued as a precaution, even when contamination is unlikely. Any loss in water pressure creates the possibility of harmful bacteria entering the lines. Until laboratory tests are completed to confirm the water has not been contaminated, the boil water notice remains in effect.

What does a boil water notice mean?

A boil water notice means tap water should not be used for drinking, cooking or ice-making until tests verify the water is safe. Tests typically take 48 hours. In the meantime, any tap water used for drinking or in anything that humans and animals ingest, should be vigorously boiled for at least one full minute. The boiling kills any microorganisms that may be present.

Pets should be given boiled or bottled water too.

Remember the boil water notice applies to everything made from this water such as ice, juice mixes, coffee, and other beverages.

How long should water be boiled?

Vigorous boiling for at least one full minute is the safest and most effective method of water disinfection. Store the disinfected water in clean, covered containers. Using bottled water is an option.

What about washing hands, and rinsing food?

Tap water and antibacterial soap for hand washing is safe for basic hygiene, but if you are washing your hands to prepare food, use bottled or boiled water. Fruits, vegetables and other foods should be washed only with boiled or bottled water.


Is it safe to use a dishwasher?

Most dishwashers do not reach high enough temperatures to kill bacteria, so dishes should be washed in boiled water. You also can wash with tap water and rinse dishes for a minute in a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach and a gallon of tap water. Allow dishes to completely air dry.

What are the recommendations for bathing and tooth brushing?

Use boiled or bottled water to brush your teeth, but tap water is fine for bathing, showering and shaving. Avoid getting water in your mouth, eyes and nose, and keep an eye on children in the bathtub. People with recent cuts, surgical wounds, immunity problems or chronic illnesses may consider using boiled water for bathing. Parents may want to use water that has been boiled and cooled to bathe newborns and young infants.

Is the water safe for other purposes?

It is safe to wash clothes in tap water. Tap water can be used for house plants, outdoor irrigation, and filling pools.

What if I drank from the tap accidentally or before I learned about the boil water notice?

If you accidentally drink tap water, don’t panic – the chances of becoming ill are slim. See your doctor if you experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps, but illnesses caused by waterborne germs usually are not serious.

How will I know when the boil water notice is lifted and I can safely use tap water again?

Affected residences will receive rescission notices that are hung on the front door, promptly after the boil water precaution has been lifted. You can also visit the BSU website for information about current boil water notices. If the notice affects a large area, BSU will provide updates to local broadcast stations and newspapers.