A boil-water order can be issued during a hurricane or any other significant event that affects the drinking water supply. This means there is a possibility of some microbial contamination in tap water. While there are advanced and expensive filters and specialized water treatment tablets on the market that can make your water safe to drink, there are two methods that are typically used by homeowners:
Bleach: Bleach is a less effective way to sanitize water but can work if you don't have access to power or cooking fuel. Add one-eighth of a teaspoon of common unscented household bleach (it should contain 5.25% sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water and let the water stand for at least 30 minutes.
Remember, these methods work with water that is clear but possibly contaminated, not with murky water taken from a ditch, for example.
Boiling: Boiling is the most effective way to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites in water. According to the Florida State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control, a pot of water that has been brought to a full rolling boil for one minute is enough to kill pathogens and make the water safe to consume. Let the water come to room temperature before drinking.
If you have additional questions concerning drinking water safety following a natural disaster or emergency situation, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at (203) 854-0238.