Baton Rouge – State health officials are advising residents in all areas impacted by Hurricane Rita to boil or disinfect water before drinking. This advisory is for communities in which water systems lost pressure due to electrical power outages.
Although some individual water systems and/or communities have already issued strict boil orders, and have notified their customers, this LDH advisory is precautionary for all systems in the affected areas that have not already issued a formal notice.
Loss of water pressure can allow bacteria to enter water distribution systems making it unsafe for consumption. This advisory warns people not to drink, make ice from, brush teeth, prepare or rinse food with tap water unless it has been properly disinfected until further notice.
How to disinfect water:
- Boil water for one full minute in a clean container. The one minute starts 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, or
- Disinfect water using chlorine bleach by mixing 1/8 teaspoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach with one gallon of water and let it stand for 30 minutes prior to consumption. If the water is cloudy or colored, use ¼ teaspoon 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, or
- Disinfect water using iodine by mixing five drops of 2% United States Pharmacopeia (USP) tincture of iodine solution (common household tincture of iodine from the medicine cabinet or first aid package) to each quart of clear water and let it stand for at least 30 minutes prior to consumption. If the water is cloudy or colored, use 10 drops to each quart of water.
Health officials note that boiling is the most effective method of disinfection of 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.