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Boil Water Advisory FAQs

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A boil water advisory (also known as a boil water order) is a public health advisory given by government or health authorities when drinking water is, or could be, contaminated by bacteria. Until the advisory is lifted, residents are advised to boil water before drinking it or using it to cook to ensure there is no bacteria before consumption.

Here are some commonly asked questions about what to do if you’re affected by a boil water advisory:

Can I drink water if I use a water filter?

Boil tap water even if it is filtered. Most kitchen and other household water filters typically do not remove bacteria or viruses.

Do I have to boil my water to prepare and cook food?


  • Wash all fruits and vegetables with boiled water that has cooled or bottled water.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute before adding food to cook.
  • Use boiled water when preparing drinks, such as coffee, tea, and lemonade.
  • Wash food preparation surfaces with boiled water.

Do I need to boil water for formula to feed my baby?

  • Prepare powdered or concentrated baby formula with bottled water.
  • Use boiled water if you do not have bottled water.
  • Use ready-to-use baby formula, if possible.
  • Wash and sterilize bottles and nipples before use.
  • If you cannot sterilize bottles, try to use single-serve, ready-to-feed bottles.

What about ice from the ice maker?

  • Do not use ice from ice trays, ice dispensers, or ice makers.
  • Throw out all ice made with tap water.
  • Make new ice with boiled or bottled water.

Can I take a bath or shower?

  • Be careful not to swallow any water when bathing or showering.
  • Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

Can I brush my teeth?

Brush teeth with boiled or bottled water. Do not use untreated tap water.

Can I wash dishes?

Household dishwashers generally are safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle.

To wash dishes by hand:

  • Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would using hot water.
  • In a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach for each gallon of warm water.
  • Soak the rinsed dishes in the water for at least one minute.
  • Let the dishes air dry completely.

Can I wash clothes?

It is safe to do laundry as usual.

Do I have to boil water to give to my pets?

Pets can get some of the same diseases as people. It is a good idea to give them boiled water that has been cooled.

Learn about hurricane preparedness resources at Ochsner.

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