WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) – The Boil Water Notice is still in effect for the Watertown area, what you can and can’t do with the water out of the tap is a bit confusing.

First, you should NOT consume any water straight from the tap, the water may have been contaminated by germs or pathogens that can cause you to be ill. For those of you who have in-home treatment units, your units are NOT designed to remove germs and pathogens; using the water from your in-home water treatment system can still make you ill.

To make the tap water safe to consume you need to bring the water to a Full Rolling Boil, approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit, for 1 Minute and then allow it to cool before consumption.

Big Questions:

Can I wash my hands?

Yes, In many cases, you can. According to the CDC, you should scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds then, rinse them well under running water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Can I brush my Teeth?

No, you need to use boiled or bottled water to brush your teeth.

Can I shower or bathe?

Yes, you can shower and bathe; however, do NOT swallow any water. The CDC recommends that you use caution when bathing babies and young children and recommends a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

Can I do laundry?

Yes, it’s safe to do laundry as usual, according to the CDC.

Can I wash dishes?

Sort of, the CDC recommends that you use disposable plates, cups, and utensils during a boil water advisory if possible.

Household dishwashers generally are safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit or the dishwater has a sanitizing cycle. All baby bottles should be Sanitized.

According to the CDC, 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; then
  • Let the dishes air dry completely before using them again.

Can my pets drink the water?

No, your pets can get sick from the same germs as you. Pets should only be drinking bottled or boiled water during this advisory period, even if you have a filtered water bowl.

NYS Department of Health and the CDC both have additional information on what to do during Boil Water Notices.