It is second nature to go to the sink and get a glass of water.  It is just as easy to turn on the faucet to brush your teeth or get water to prepare a meal.  We do it without even thinking about it.  But, what if your water supply had been compromised?  Would you know what to do?  How would you keep your family from habitually going to the tap to get water? Here is what my brilliant Niece shared with her neighbors recently. She is exactly in this situation....right now. Out of her concern for her neighbors and friends, she shared the following information to help them.  

For those in the Greenville/Edwardsville area, a little more info on the water situation, and some tips on how to deal with it. Some routine samples were taken on Monday, and results on those samples came back Wednesday as positive for E Coli. They are taking more samples and waiting for the results on those. They are also looking for a source of the contamination. Officials are anticipating 6 days of being on boil order.
All water for drinking, cooking, and washing dishes with should be brought to a rolling boil for 1 full minute. You're dishwasher will sanitize dishes on it's own (it heats the water hot enough to sanitize), but all hand washed dishes should be washed with boiled water. It's safe to bathe in (don't get it in your mouth) and wash your clothes in. Make sure to use clean/boiled water to brush your teeth with.
In our house, we are putting signs on all the faucets saying not to use them. I'm having the kids bring their toothbrushes down to the kitchen so that it's different enough that they won't accidentally use the sink out of habit (lesson learned from last time). If a toothbrush does make it under the tap, just put it in boiling water for one minute to sanitize it again. Hand washing should be done with boiled water as well. It also doesn't hurt to have some hand sanitizer hanging around for use before eating and drinking, because sometimes contamination can make it through you're precautions;)
After the ban is lifted:
1. Flush your hot water tank twice
2. Run treated water through all your faucets for 15 minutes
3. Throw out the ice from your ice maker and sanitize the bin
4. Run a couple gallons of treated water through your refrigerator after you replace the water filter
5. Bleach the aerators in all your faucets
6. Scrub down all your sinks and bathtubs with a germ killing bath cleaner
She also shared this additional comment with me:

 I've got to go check on my elderly neighbor. She didn't have much water last night and we thought this was going to be short term.. I learned from you and mom to help myself, and then help those around me:)

Take Home Message:

  • Would you know what to do in this situation?  Would you know how to find out if the water in your area was compromised. For that matter, do you know how to find out about any possible emergency in your town or neighborhood?   Many cities have a website with wonderful information. Check out the resources in your area today so that you are not wasting valuable time if and when a compromised situation arises.  
  • Do you have the necessary supplies on hand? Not only do you need to boil water in this situation, but you need other things as well.  You should have water filters, bleach, containers to boil in, stored water, and fuel just in case you are without power as well.  
  • Knowing that your water is compromised, if you had to dispose of waste.....what would you plan be?  What are the requirements/codes in your are to deal with waste?  Are you allowed to bury it?  Do you know which of your plants you can safely put liquid waste on?  As a general rule, you should never put human waste on plants/trees that provide food for consumption. It is often fine for ornamental plants.
  • How would you keep your family members from habitually going to the faucet and getting a drink or brushing your teeth?  How would you alert little ones that cannot read?
  • What about your neighbors?  Do you have any neighbors or extended family members who may need your assistance during times like these? Do you have a plan in place for them?

Food for thought, don't you think?  

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