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What should you do if you are told to boil drinking water?
Together with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has issued advice on what to do if a “Boil water advisory” is announced. Some of the advice can also be followed if the microbial water quality is unknown, for example for use of water directly from nature, while on a trip or from a private drinking water supply.
Advice to consumers - what should you do with a boil water advisory?
You will be notified if the water treatment unit or authorities suspect that the water quality is unsafe. This happens if the water is suspected to contain harmful microorganisms that may cause disease. Boiling kills microorganisms like viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Allow the water the boil well. An electric kettle will usually bring the water to the boil before switching itself off and this is sufficient. If using a microwave oven, make sure that the water is boiling.
After the water has boiled, allow it to cool naturally without adding ice cubes, etc. If the water contains particles or is cloudy and needs to be filtered, do this before boiling to prevent recontamination.
All drinking water must be boiled first. An alternative is to use bottled water.
As well as drinking, use boiled water for:
- All foods not cooked or heat treated over 100 °C
- Dilution of cordials and other products for consumption
- Coffee. Drip coffee makers do not boil water, so the water used must be boiled in advance. Other types of coffee machines should be checked with the supplier.
- Ice cubes
- Rinsing fruit, salad and vegetables that will not be cooked.
- Brushing teeth
Unboiled water can be used for:
- Cooking of food
- Hand washing. Wash hands with soap, rinse and dry thoroughly afterwards
- Showering and baths. You can shower and bathe as normal while boiling is recommended, but if you have an impaired immune system in combination with open wounds, a quick shower (not a bath) followed by thoroughly drying off well afterwards are recommended. Be careful not to swallow water. Take particular care with small children.
- Manual dishwashing and dishwasher. When washing dishes by hand, wash the dishes with boiled hot water or dry thoroughly. Detergents with a disinfectant effect are not sufficient. To achieve a good disinfection effect in a dishwasher, the program must have a temperature of at least 65 ºC when ordinary household machines are used with a program length of 1 hour or more. Leave the dishes to stand and air dry.
- Cleaning the house
- Other domestic uses
Children should not play with the water from hosepipes or in paddling pools during periods where boiling water is advised.