Wondering if you can shower or brush your teeth while the Kent County Water Authority's boil-water order is in effect? Read the safety tips below so you can avoid an E. coli infection if you live in Warwick or a community listed below.
On Sept. 22, 2013, the Water Authority announced that E. coli bacteria and total coli form have been found in the drinking water supply, forcing the boil-water order for most residents of West Warwick, Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, Cranston and West Greenwich.
Approximately 80,000 people are impacted by this order. (see a list of symptoms from E. Coli bacteria below)
While it is common sense to not to drink the water during the expected four day ban, there are many precautions people should take to avoid getting sick from the bacteria found in the drinking water supply.
Don't forget your pets: In addition to people in the affected areas, please be mindful of your pets. They can become ill from drinking contaminated water or from a dish that was not properly sterilized.
Safety tips to follow during the water ban issued by the Kent County Water Authority:
- Use commercially bottled water for drinking, cooking, to mix with infant formula, and for pets.
- If you don't have bottled water, heat your water to a hard boil for at least 1 minute prior to use (store in a clean, covered container)
- Do not use water from home filtration devices (filters). They DO NOT kill bacteria. You may have theses devices built into your refrigerator or they may be faucet mounted.
- Do not use the ice in your automatic ice maker in your refrigerator. Dispose of it immediately.
- Avoid using your dishwasher unless you use a chlorinated detergent or there is a sanitizing cycle.
- Hand wash dishes with boiled or bottled water.
- Only use boiled or bottled water while the ban is in place.
- Hand washing with tap water is not safe. Wash hands with liquid soap and rinse with the following solution:
- Place 1 tsp. (5 mls) of liquid household bleach in 1 gallon (4.5 l) of water. Mix and let stand for at least 15 minutes before using. Transfer to small, clean containers and keep at each sink in your home. Make sure you use the label "Chlorine Bleach Solution. Apply to hands after washing. Do not drink" to each container.
- If you don't have this mixture available, use an alcohol-based hand disinfectant that contains more than 60% alcohol after washing hands with soap.
- Adults can take showers as long as they don't swallow the water. Use the hand washing instructions above after you take a bath or shower.
- Infants and children should take sponge baths with previously boiled water or bottled water as they are more apt to get water in their mouth.
- If you have a skin lesion or open wound, take sponge baths with boiled water.
- Laundering your clothes should be fine. Use the hot water setting if you are concerned.
- When the boil-water order is lifted by the Kent County Water Authority, it is important that you open all taps and run water for at least one minute prior to use. Do the same with any water that is connected by a pipe to your refrigerator.
Symptoms of E. coli infection:
- Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 4 days, but can take as long as 8 days to appear.
- The EPA states that most people recover without antibiotics or other specific treatment in 5-10 days.Antidiarrheal agents, such as loperamide (Imodium), should also be avoided.
- If you have symptoms of E.coli, call your physician immediately.
Contact the Kent County Water Authority at (401) 821-9300 with any questions. Their offices are located at 1072 Main St, West Warwick, RI.
Note: There are some exceptions to the areas that are under the boil-water order. Residents who live in Cranston's Oaklawn section and those who reside in the Brookfield Plat in West Warwick are not under the current boil water order.