The city of Tampa and some unincorporated parts of Hillsborough County are under a boil water notice after a water main burst Monday. Repairs are ongoing, but city officials expect the boil water notice to remain in place for 48 to 72 hours.
There are more ways to disinfect water for safe use and consumption than by just boiling it. Here’s what you should know about a boil water notice and how to safely disinfect tap water.
Once water is disinfected in any of the following ways, it can be used for drinking, cooking, cleaning and brushing teeth, according to the city of Tampa.
1. Bring water to a rolling boil
One way to kill bacteria in tap water is to bring the water to a rolling boil and hold it there for a minute.
2. Add bleach
Adding bleach to drinking water is safe if done properly. Add 1/8th a teaspoon, or about eight drops, of unscented household bleach per clear gallon of tap water, shake and let stand for 30 minutes. If he tap water appears cloudy, use about 1/4th a teaspoon, or 16 drops, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. Buy water purification tablets
Many camping and sporting goods stores sell water purification or iodine tablets that can be used to disinfect water.
4. Different ways to wash dishes
If you’re washing dishes by hand, you don’t have to boil the water first as long as you use hot, soapy water and add one tablespoon of bleach per gallon, according to the Florida Department of Health. Rinse dishes in cooled, boiled water. Only use a dishwasher if it has a sanitizing system.
5. Can you shower?
Yes, but be careful not to drink any water while you shower or bathe. Cover any open wounds with a bandage before hopping in the shower.
6. What about water for pets?
To be on the safe side, the Florida Department of Health recommends boiling or disinfecting water before giving it to any pets.
7. Where to get bottled water
Until the boil water notice is rescinded, the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department will distribute free bottled water to city residents from its emergency storm supply. City staff will distribute both bottled water and face coverings at the following four locations from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday:
- Himes Avenue Sports Complex: 4501 S. Himes Avenue
- MacFarlane Park: 1700 N. MacDill Avenue (Turn onto Main St. from MacDill Ave. Distribution near the basketball courts.)
- Al Barnes Park: 2902 N. 32nd Street
- New Tampa Community Center: 17302 Commerce Park Boulevard
Bottled water is limited to one case per household, but households with more than four members may receive two cases, according to city officials. Residents can also pick up two free face coverings per person. No I.D. is required.