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The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Project (DEP) monitors drinking water throughout the state through regular testing. Sometimes water testing finds E. coli/ fecal coliform bacteria in the drinking water supply. E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria indicate that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Drinking water with these wastes can cause short-term illness, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. If this happens, the Town issues a boil water advisory. A boil water advisory lets people know that they should boil their water for at least one minute, or use bottled water, for drinking, cooking, food preparation, making ice, brushing teeth, bathing children, and washing dishes. In addition, infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may accidentally swallow it.
During a boil water advisory, the the Town and the State will need to investigate the cause of the contamination and fix the problem. Then they need to do a series of tests to ensure there are no more bacteria in the water. As soon as MassDEP is assured that the water is safe, we will lift the boil water advisory and the Town will issue a public notice.
Yes. If bottled water is available, that is the best option until officials say otherwise. If you do not have bottled water available, the next best option is to boil your tap water to make it safe to drink. Filters do not remove E.Coli fecal coliform bacteria.
To improve the taste of boiled water you can:
Disinfectant tablets obtained from a wilderness store or pharmacy may be used. In an emergency, liquid chlorine bleach such as Clorox© or Purex© can be used at a dose of 8 drops (or 1 teaspoon) of bleach to each gallon of water. (Careful measurement with a clean dropper or other accurate measuring device is required when using liquid chlorine bleach.) Let stand for at least 30 minutes before use. Read the label to see that the bleach has 5-6% available chlorine.
Breastfeeding is best. Continue to breastfeed. If breastfeeding is not an option:
Use disposable plates, cups, and utensils, if possible. If you do not have disposable dishes, follow the instructions below.
Almost everyone who drinks this water will be fine and will have no symptoms at all. Those people who do develop symptoms may suffer nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and possibly a mild fever. These symptoms are very much what you would expect from a case of food poisoning.
If you get these symptoms, you should wash your hands frequently and avoid dehydration. Call a doctor if an infant or elderly person develops these symptoms or if you have a weakened immune system. You should also call a doctor if you have diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:
The most important thing to do is avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinks with caffeine, such as soda, coffee, and tea. If you are concerned about your health or the health of a family member, contact your healthcare provider.
Yes. Pets can get sick from the same contaminants as people. It is a good idea to give them bottled, boiled, or disinfected water. Boiled water should always be cooled before using.
Most germs that infect people do not infect reptiles or fish. If your water system is using more chlorine or changing disinfection, be cautious about changing the water in your fish tank or aquarium. Standard aquarium operations require removal of chlorine and chloramines, which can be toxic to fish and reptiles.
Contact your local pet store or veterinarian for more information.
Yes, you can use the tap water for household plants and gardens.
No. Due to the high chance that children will get water in their mouth while playing in a kiddie pool, we recommend that you avoid using your kiddie pool during the boil water advisory.
In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands. Be sure to scrub your hands with soap and water (warm or cold) for 20 seconds and rinse them well under running water. It is important to dry hands completely with a towel or by letting them air dry. Hand sanitizer can be used after proper washing for an additional layer of protection.
No. Use bottled water or boiled water that has cooled to brush your teeth.
Yes, as long as you don't swallow the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they might swallow some accidentally. To prevent this, bathe your children with pre-boiled or bottled water or give them sponge baths using only a small amount of water. There is no problem with bathing nursing home or elderly patients unless there is any possibility of them swallowing the water. Patients with open sores should not be bathed even under normal conditions. Don't use swimming pools as a substitute for bathing. Tap water is safer.
Yes, you can shave as usual.
Yes, it is safe to do laundry as usual.
Use pre-boiled water for all preparation of food. If food is to be cooked in water, boil the water first for more than one minute.
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