Portland west side recently had a notice that E-coli was possible in its water supply.  Water is vital to human survival!  If you have contaminated water you must take precautions.  High density areas such as condominiums and apartments are particularly affected by contaminated water supplies.  It is important that your building supervisor or management company inform occupants immediately if there is a threat to the water supply, what that threat is and what you should do to avoid health impacts. There must also be a clear line of communication when this threat is over and what to do in the aftermath.  If you live in a high density community find out what the protocols are for your building.  Here is a link for more information on Water Supply Systems and Evaluation Methods.

– Live Safe USA

How to Use Water Contaminated with E-Coli

– by Amy Kreger

Recently, the city’s water in my home town was found to be contaminated with E-coli and fecal matter. I know, not a very pleasant thing to contemplate. All of a sudden, my quiet little town was undergoing a public health crisis and most people weren’t sure how to handle it. Thankfully, we have a great community response team that did a great job of notifying residents door-to-door of the problem as quickly as possible. Since our town expects to be under a “boil order” for at least the next week, I decided to get educated regarding what activities contaminated water may safely be used for, as well as what activities require water sterilization.


Activities for which contaminated water may be used:
In short, contaminated water may be used for almost anything other than consumption. It is both safe and permissible to wash clothes and bathe or shower in contaminated water. The exception to this rule would be when bathing children. If there is any possibility that your child will ingest the water while they are taking a bath, you should not bathe them. Instead, wash them outside of the tub, or take them to the home of a friend or relative who has well water.

Activities for which you must sterilize your water:
The basic rule for deciding whether or not you are going to sterilize your water is this: If you are going to ingest it, you must sterilize it. Water which is going to be used for drinking, brushing teeth, food preparation or washing dishes must also be sterilized. Home dishwashers DO NOT get hot enough to sterilize water, so you must use sterilize water for washing dishes. Coffee makers also do not get hot enough to sterilize water.

How to sterilize contaminated water:
The sterilization procedure is very simple, though somewhat inconvenient. Water must be brought to a rolling boil and left to boil for 1 minute. This is sufficient to kill bacteria in the water. The water can then be allowed to cool for your use.

Tips for making it through a bought with contaminated water:
Here are a few things we have done to make dealing with water contamination easier:

1. Purchase at least some bottled water. Living on bottled water for a week can be expensive. For this reason, we bought twenty gallons of water to use for drinking, brushing teeth and food preparation. We boil the water we need to use for washing dishes.

2. Purchase disposable plates, bowls, silverware and cups. No matter how many disposable things you buy, you will still have to use some regular dishes. Since boiling the water to wash dishes is time consuming, reduce the necessity by buying as many throw-away options as possible.

3. Have sanitary wipes or gels next to the sinks in your house. They will come in hand for everything: wiping of the table, washing your hands and cleaning up your kids after a meal, to name a few.

4. Don’t plan on eating out. Remember, every restaurant, coffee shop and fast food restaurant in town won’t be able to operate until the contamination is cleared by the city.

5. If you have a home water softener or purifier, you will need to contact the manufacturer to find out how to sterilize it before you begin to use your city water for consumption again.

Though the words “water contamination,” “E-coli,” and “fecal matter” tend to bring a sense of concern, you can survive contaminated water. By knowing what contaminated water may and may not be used for, and learning how to sterilize contaminated water, you can better prepare yourself to deal with water containing E-coli or other bacteria.

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