Portland boil water notice: Frequently asked questions - KPTV - FOX 12

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Portland boil water notice: Frequently asked questions

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What do I do?

All water used for drinking, teeth brushing, food preparation, and ice should be boiled at a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute as a safety precaution. Ice or any beverages prepared with un-boiled tap water on or after May 20, 2014 should be discarded.

The bureau will lift the boil water notice when results show no contamination. Results should be available sometime Saturday morning, May 24, 2014. The public should follow boil water precautions until the bureau notifies the public that the water supply has returned to a safe condition.

Who is affected?

An estimated 670,000 people located in the affected area that includes customers of the Portland Water Bureau, Burlington, City of Gresham (North of I-84), Lake Grove, Lorna Portland Water, Palatine Hill, Rockwood, Tigard Water Service Area (including Durham, King City and Bull Mountain), Valley View, and West Slope Water Districts.

Who is most at risk?

Infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

What activities do require boiling water?

  • Drinking
  • Washing food that isn't cooked or baked
  • Adding water to food or baby formula without cooking and baking
  • Ice making
  • Cleaning food contact surfaces
  • Tooth brushing and gargling
  • Eye washing or rinsing contact lenses
  • Taking water with medications

What activities don't require boiling water?

  • Showering and bathing
  • Dish washing with soapy tap water, as long as dishes are rinsed with boiled water
  • Laundry
  • General cleaning and mopping
  • Hand washing - use soap and towel, dry vigorously
  • Pet bathing
  • Watering plants / irrigation

How long will I have to boil my water?

The boil water notice is in effect until test results shows the water is free from contamination. First sample results will be available Saturday.

Is using hot tap water enough?

No, even hot tap water must be boiled for one minute.

Can I use tap water to brush my teeth?

No. Do not use tap water to brush your teeth. Use boiled or bottled water.

Is it safe to take a shower or bath?

Yes, it is safe to take a bath or shower, but be careful not to swallow any water. Use caution when bathing infants and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

What about shaving?

Yes, you can shave as usual.

Will my home filtration system substitute for boiling water?

Home filtration systems vary considerably. To be safe, boiled or bottled water should be used.

What are the symptoms?

Most varieties are harmless or just cause brief diarrhea, but E. coli can also cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps or vomiting.

What should I do about feeding my infant?

Continue to breastfeed if that's what you currently do. If breastfeeding is not an option:

  • Use ready-to-use formula, if possible.
  • Prepare powdered or concentrated formula with bottled water. Use boiled water if you do not have bottled water. Disinfect water for formula if you cannot boil your water (see directions below on how to use bleach to disinfect water).
  • Wash and sterilize bottles and nipples before use.
  • If you cannot sterilize bottles, try to use single-serve, ready-to-feed bottles.

I am unable to boil my water, is there an alternative to boiling?

If you can't boil water, you can treat water with unscented household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite). Add 1/8 teaspoon of bl each per gallon of water if the water is clear. Mix thoroughly and let it stand for about 30 minutes before using.

What about my pet? Is it safe for my pet to drink or bathe in this water?

Pets have some innate protection for this type of water contamination. However, some people will prefer to use boiled water for their pets to drink.

I am feeling ill, what should I do?

Symptoms are not only caused by organisms in drinking water. People experiencing any symptoms that persist may want to seek medical advice from their doctor. People who feel their symptoms are a result of consuming drinking water should contact the Multnomah County Health Department Communicable Disease Nurse at 503-988-3406.

How do I care for open wounds/sores from an unrelated medical condition?

While the organisms of greatest concern need to be ingested to cause illness, the Portland Water Bureau recommends people to take the greatest precaution and use water that has been boiled or bottled water to clean wounds and sores. People with compromised immune systems are at most risk and should consult their health care provider.

Can I wash dishes in my Dishwasher?

Dishwashers with a sanitizing cycle can be used to clean dishes. If your dishwasher does not have a sanitizing cycle, tap water combined with dish soap can be used to clean dishes, utensils and cooking ware. Boiled water must be used for rinsing.

How should I clean my contact lenses?

Contacts should be cleaned with appropriate contact lens solution. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds with thorough drying before putting in contact lenses.

What about doing laundry?

Yes, it is safe to do laundry as usual.

Should I wash dishes with boiled water?

Tap water combined with dish soap can be used to clean dishes, utensils and cooking ware. Boiled water must be used for rinsing. Any di

shes rinsed without boiled water should be rewashed as above.


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