WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Boil water advisories seem to be more and more common. Typically these advisories will be issued by health departments and/or city officials when a malfunction occurs in the water system. These advisories can only be rescinded by officials as well. So what are we supposed to do in the meantime?

Customers should observe the following precautions until further notice:

  • If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the water run until it clears.
  • Boil water for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation or use bottled water.
  • Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic icemaker.
  • Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.
  • Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing so that water is not ingested. Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians.

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding boil water advisories and answers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Can I wash my hands?
    • In many cases, you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands. Be sure to wash them for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Can I wash my dishes and/or surfaces?
    • It is recommended that you use disposable cups, plates, and utensils. However, you can wash dishes and/or surfaces under certain conditions.
  • Can I use water filtering devices?
    • If you use water filtering devices, they may not be sufficient enough to take out all of the bacteria out of the water. That’s why health officials recommend that you don’t use ice from those appliances.
  • What about my pets and farm animals?
    • These precautions need to be followed for animals.
  • May I brush my teeth with tap water?
    • It is recommended that you do not use tap water to brush your teeth. Even if you do not swallow water while brushing your teeth, you are still going to ingest some of the water that lingers.
  • Can I still wash my laundry?
    • You can use tap water to run your laundry.
  • Can I water my plants?
    • You can use tap water to water plants, including gardens and vegetables.

For consumer questions, please contact the water system or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) at 785-296-5514. For consumer information, please visit KDHE’s PWS Consumer Information webpage: kdhe.ks.gov/waterdisruption.

Restaurants and other food establishments that have questions about the impact of the boil water advisory on their business can contact the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s food safety & lodging program at kda.fsl@ks.gov or call 785-564-6767.