BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Health today urged residents to take precautions with drinking water that could be affected by the extreme cold blanketing the state.
Already, four water systems in Louisiana are under a boil advisory this evening after frigid temperatures have frozen water lines, causing them to burst. The resulting loss of pressure creates the potential for contaminants to enter the water line, and state regulations require a boil advisory following such a line break to ensure the safety of drinking water. More line breaks are expected during the next couple of days. Residents should stay tuned to local media for information on boil advisories in their areas.
If you live in an area under boil advisory or you have lost water pressure at your tap, or if the water pressure is extremely low, State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, MD, recommends homeowners disinfect their water by any one of the following methods prior to consumption (including drinking, cooking, brushing teeth or preparing food):
- Boil water for one full minute in a clean container. The one minute boil time begins after the water has been brought to a rolling boil. (The flat taste can be eliminated by shaking the water in a bottle or pouring it from one container to another.)
- If the water is clear, mix 1/8 teaspoon of unscented, liquid chlorine laundry bleach with one gallon of water and let it stand for at least 30 minutes prior to consumption.
- If the water is cloudy or colored, use 1/4 teaspoon of unscented, liquid chlorine laundry bleach per gallon of water. Be sure to mix thoroughly.
If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, it can be made more palatable by allowing the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring it from one clean container to another several times.
Boiling is the most effective method to disinfect water, particularly for people who are severely immunocompromised (infected with HIV/AIDS, cancer and transplant patients taking immunosuppressive drugs, or people born with a weakened immune system) and for infants and elderly who wish to take extra precautions.
People obtaining water from a public water system under a boil advisory must continue to disinfect their drinking water by one of the above listed methods until notified by your water system or the Department of Health that the water has been tested and is safe to drink.
People who have been affected by loss of water service may expect some irregularities with their water while efforts are being made to ensure that the water is safe. It is expected that water may have an unusual chlorine odor as well as possible sediments appearing in the water while these special precautions are taking place. Flushing household taps for a few minutes should fix these problems.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.