On Friday, June 28th, Lindon, Utah, a town of about 10,348 inhabitants, issued a drinking water restriction for its residents because an E. coli outbreak was discovered in the city’s water system. Since Emergency Essentials headquarters is located in Orem, Utah, right next door to Lindon, this E. coli outbreak hit rather close to home for some of our employees.
On Friday night, I watched Utah’s ABC 4 news report about the E. coli outbreak. Reporters stated that city officials say that the entire water system would have to be flushed out and every tank and pipe in the city would have to be disinfected. The city issued mandatory boil order for its residents until the water was cleaned and the restriction was lifted on June 30th.
This mandatory water restriction/boil order raises some interesting questions for emergency preparedness. How common and realistic is this scenario? What would you do if a water restriction was issued in your area? Have you already experienced this?
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued recommendations on how to boil and store water if a water restriction is announced in your city. Here are some things you should consider doing to help you and your family stay safe:
- Bring water to a rolling boil for a minimum of one minute
- When it cools, you can pour your clean water into clean containers and refrigerate
- Adding a pinch of salt per quart to your boiled water may improve the taste
- Instead of boiling water, you can also disinfect it by adding 1/8 teaspoon of bleach (common household bleach containing 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Do not use bleach containing perfume, dyes, or other additives.
When a boil order is issued, it pertains to almost all the ways you use water in your household—the obvious exception being flushing the toilet. The DEQ even has a chart that shows what tasks in your home should be done with boiled water. But having to boil water to do simple everyday tasks—washing your face, brushing your teeth, or cooking your food—could also be annoying and inconvenient.
If boiling your water is inconvenient, many might say: “Well why not just buy a ton of bottled water? Problem solved!” While bottled water may seem like an easy solution to your water restriction woes (and in many instances it can be), in a water restriction, bottled water can get cleared off the shelves as quickly as bread, milk, and eggs in a snow storm. Also, if the city does not know how long the boil order might last buying bottled water could get pricey.
So, when you can’t rely on bottled water, what’s another alternative you can turn to? –Water Storage! If you have an adequate supply of water storage (the recommended minimum amount of water to store is one gallon per day, per person, for 14 days), you will not have to worry about boiling your water or worrying that bottled water will run out at the store.
Our product specialist, Tim, currently lives in Lindon and had to host part of his family reunion during the water restriction. In order to make it through his family reunion, Tim is relying on water storage from his 55 gallon barrels and 160 gallon reserve tank system.
He also plans to use a Katadyn Base Camp Gravity Filter to supply water for his guests. You simply hang the Base Camp Gravity Filter up and it filters up to 2 gallons of water in 15 minutes with no pumping. It will clean up to 200 gallons of water before you have to change out the filter component.
If you are interested in building up a water storage supply, check out our Insight Article, "Water Storage Options", look into our water storage product page, and consider buying a water storage combo.
Here is one piece of advice Tim shared for surviving a water boiling order: Once you have enough boiled water stored, shut off the valves to your faucets so your family doesn’t use the sinks out of habit. Don’t turn off the main water valve because you’ll still want to flush the toilet and get more water from the sink if you need to boil more.
Be prepared for a water restriction or boiling order in your area. Learn how to adequately boil water and store water.
If you’ve been through a boil order before, what tips do you have?