Do’s and don’ts: Here’s what doctors say you should, shouldn’t do during a boil water notice

HOUSTON – Residents who are under a boil water notice may be wondering how safe the water is for use, and what exactly can and can’t you do when trying to avoid illness during the notice.

Here’s what doctors had to say.

Hand washing

Hand washing is safe, says Dr. Shane Magee of Kelsey-Seybold, but he recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer afterward.


Officials from the city of Houston said bathing is fine.

Dr. Magee said vulnerable populations (in general that means people over 65, kids under five, and immune-compromised patients) may want to try and avoid bathing until the notice is lifted.

“Even if you were to drink bad water, you have to drink enough of it to cause problems and you’ll probably be fine, but you don’t want to risk it,” said Dr. Magee.

Teeth brushing

In theory, any water that’s contaminated that goes in your mouth could cause infection, Dr. Magee said.

“If you already brushed your teeth with that toothbrush, it may be advisable to change your toothbrush, or change the top on your electric toothbrush for a future rinse,” he said.

And here are the symptoms to look out for in the event you consume water:

If you were to ingest bacteria that could make you sick, symptoms would include:

Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, abdominal pain

How to prevent illness

When boiling water, Dr. Magee said to bring it to a rapid boil for two to three minutes before letting it cool. That will ensure no bacteria can survive.