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Boil Water Advisory for Schools and Food Service Establishments FAQ

During a boil water advisory, use water boiled at a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes or water from an approved source (e.g. bottled water). If neither of these options is available, the establishment or facility must close.

 

Handwashing

How do I wash my hands during a boil water advisory?

Use warm tap water and soap for handwashing. After hands are rinsed and dried, follow with a liquid hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer must be used as an additional step; it does not replace handwashing.

 

Food Preparation

Can I use tap water when preparing food products?

If using tap water in your food product, the minimum internal temperature must reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit or boiled water must be used.

 

Can I use tap water for washing food products?

Use boiled and cooled water when washing food products that will not be cooked afterward or purchase pre-washed items.

 

Can I thaw food with tap water?

Tap water may be used to thaw food in a preparation sink, as long as the product is cooked afterward and reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, thaw food in a refrigerator instead of using tap water.

 

Can I continue to use my ice maker?

No. Discard ice made from tap water. All ice, including bagged ice, must be from an approved source (e.g. purchased ice).

 

Can I continue to use a produce mister?

Discontinue the use of produce misters during a boil water advisory.

 

Utensil Washing/Sanitizers

Can I use my dishwasher during a boil water advisory?

Test dishwashers to verify that temperatures reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit on the surfaces of the internal contents of the appliance. To test the temperature, place a food thermometer into a glass and run the dishwasher. During the wash cycle take note of the temperature.

 

Can sanitizing solutions be used during a boil water advisory?

Yes, however sanitizing solutions must be 50-200 parts per million chlorine and tested routinely with test strips.

 

Can dipper wells be used during a boil water advisory?

No, discontinue the use of a dipper well for the duration of a boil water advisory.

 

Beverages

Can hot beverages continue to be served during a boil water advisory?

Coffee and other hot drinks must reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, use boiled and cooled water to prepare hot beverages.

 

Can mixed beverages containing water be used during a boil water advisory?
  • Do not consume mixed beverages containing tap water during a boil water advisory. This includes soda dispensers connected to a water supply. Substitute mixed beverages with canned or bottled.
  • Discontinue the use of drinking water fountains and other plumbing fixtures used to provide drinking water.

 

Special Recommendations for Schools

  • Purchase and distribute bottled water.
  • Cover and tag out all drinking water fountains. Unplug all ice makers. Discard any ice.
  • Signs should be posted at all faucets as a reminder of the boil water advisory and not to drink the water.
  • Discard all food products that were prepared with tap water that has not been boiled.
  • There is no need to boil water for bathing or showering. Adults, teens and older children can shower or bathe, though they should avoid getting water in their mouth or swallowing water.
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