Today I wanted to discuss a particular type of water emergency; a “boil notice” or “boil alert notification”. These notifications happen quite often around the USA (see a recent one here). But there is a very important point that they never tell you. You need to understand what it is.
First, what is a “boil alert notification”? When the water flowing to your tap contains, or is suspected to contain a biological contaminant, such as E. coli, the municipal water company will often (not always) tell you to boil the water before you consume it. Boiling the water will kill biological contaminants, thus eliminating that danger.
It’s important to keep in mind that creating an infrastructure that provides us with biologically safe tap water was a HUGE step forward for public safety. And it’s something that we completely take for granted.
Sometimes however, something goes wrong and biological contaminants pass through the pipes to our faucets, which puts us at risk. The largest such event to happen in recent times was the cryptosporidium outbreak that hit Milwaukee in 1993. Over 400,000 people became ill and over 100 died as a result.
Biological outbreaks can be very dangerous for a few reasons. First, biological contaminants are obviously living organisms, which means that they can grow and multiply. So a few can quickly become many. Second, biological contaminants can make you extremely ill within a matter of days.
But there is one extremely important point that no one ever tells you regarding boil alerts: if you have a filter or reverse osmosis system, your filter (or membrane) is now contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria. This can be a very serious situation, because the bacteria can become trapped in the filter, but it’s not yet dead. It can grow and multiply, and it can actually grow through your filter and cause a breach. In fact, if bacteria get trapped in your RO System or filter, then grow and multiply, they can then be released into your water in amounts higher than during the actual boil alert event.
Your filter or RO System could be contaminated with bacteria right now without you knowing it. If you’ve ever removed your filter and saw a green or black slime on it, you have a bacteria colony growing on your filter. This could be a reason for mystery illnesses in your family.
So what to do? If you have a filter or RO System and there has been a boil notice, you need to…
1) stop using your filter or RO System immediately until after the danger has passed,
2) remove the filter/membrane and then thoroughly disinfect the system and the lines in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions,
3) after the danger has passed and the system and the lines have been disinfected, replace the filter.
Alternatively, instead of using filters or reverse osmosis systems, you could install a good water distiller in your home. This is what I do. Water distillers provide the highest level of protection against the full range of contaminants, including biological contaminants. If you are using a good water distiller, you don’t need to worry about boil notices.
I recommend these water distillers, which are made by my father’s company. Of course, the Survival Still will provide the highest level of protection against biological contaminants too. The difference between the Survival Still and an automated distiller is…
- The Survival Still is non-electric and can be used with any heat source. It’s specifically designed for emergency situations. It can be used every day if you want to, but remember that it’s not designed for convenience – it’s designed for reliability in any situation. Check out the Survival Still here.
- The AquaNui Distillers are electric appliances, so they are effective and convenient. They do require electricity to operate, obviously. Check out the AquaNui distillers here.
Also see these articles…