Iowa Department of Public Health
 Division of Environmental Health
Frequently Asked Questions About Boil Water Advisories



* Why do I need to boil my Water?
During a "boil water advisory", tap water is not safe for drinking and must be boiled.  Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.


*How can I make my water safe?
During a boil advisory, either use bottled water or bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute, and then cool before using.  Water should be stored in a clean plastic containers and water coolers made of heavy opaque plastic with tight fitting screw lids.  Avoid the use of used milk jugs, juice containers, sports bottles, ect.


*When should I use boiled tap water or bottled water?
Boiled tap water or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetable, baby formula, coffee, and food preperation until further notice.  It is also recommended that you wash your hands with soap and either bottled water or boiled tap water.



*Can my family take showers or baths with tap water?
The water may be used for showers or bathingas long as no water is swallowed.  It is recommended that children be given sponge bath using bottled wateror water that has been boiled.  People with open wounds or who are immune-compromised should avoid showering or bathing in contaminated tap water.



*Can I wash dishes using tap water?
Dishes and utensils should be washed using bottled water or water that has been boiled.



*Can I give my pet tap water?
Pets are not normally affected by the same diseases as humans, however caution would suggest giving pets bottled or boiled tap water.



*What if I operate a restaurant?
When a "boil water order" is issued by the DNR, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) requires that precautions be taken by all food service establishments in the affected area.  For more information about the operation of food service establishments during a water boil order, please contact DIA's Food and Consumer Saftey Bureau at (515)281-6538.


*Other Questions?
General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1(800)426-4791.