Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cleaning Water

The cleanliness of water is important for cities and the residents health. Once in awhile on the news a story will come up about residents that have become sick from the water. Residents are then encouraged to boil their water before drinking it. The EPA gives the following tips if you find yourself in the need to boil water for safety.

 Wash dishes in a sink is still safe while under a boil water advisory. For an extra percaution, after you have washed these dishes, soak them for thirty seconds in a sink full of water with a half cup of chlorine bleach. Then let the dishes air dry. It is also safe to wash dishes in a dishwasher. The high water temperature and the strong detergent used in dishwashers, as well as the dry cycle, should kill any disease-causing organisms.

Clothes can be safely washed using tap water while under a boil water advisory. There is no health concern about using this water to wash clothing.

Taking a shower or a bath in this water is safe. However, special care should be taken to prevent infants from swallowing bath water. EPA does not think that minor sores or wounds should raise any concerns. Pathogens associated with fecal contamination normally are adapted for growth in the intestine. Infection by a route other than gastrointestinal is not common.

Safe sources of water that can be used in emergencies include bottled water, ice cubes, rainwater collected in food grade containers and then boiled, and water collected from hot water heaters or toilet tanks (not the bowl) and then boiled (Disaster Readiness Fact Kit; Emergency Drinking Water Treatment, NSF International).

The Red Cross suggest the following for preparing contaminated water for drinking:

Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This is the same for stored water.

You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Because the potency of bleach diminishes over time, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle.

Add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it dosen’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of bleach, discard it and find another source of water.

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