SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Every household and business in Springfield, a large portion of Southwest Ludlow extending along Route 21, and small sections of Wilbraham are affected by the boil water notice Wednesday morning after a water main break in Springfield, but what is a water boil notice?

MAP: Areas that need to boil water

Public Safety Alert went out to cell phones in the area however, the Boil Water Order is located in Springfield, a portion of Ludlow and a small area in Wilbraham. Visit the interactive map to search by address to see if you’re affected by the Boil Water Order.

Springfield Water and Sewer Commission

According to Mass.gov, MassDEP’s Drinking Water program (DWP) issues public health orders when they determine that consumers of a particular public water system should take precautionary measures with their tap water.

A public health order is a measure to protect the public from waterborne disease or contamination, and different types of orders are issued depending on the severity of the problem, such as:

  • Boil Water Order (excess levels of bacteria or other contamination)
  • Do Not Drink Order (contamination for which boiling the water may not be enough treatment)
  • Do Not Use Order (unknown or high-risk contaminants)

What is a water boil order?

A boil water advisory means your community’s water has or could have, germs that can make you sick, according to the CDC.

Anyone who drinks contaminated water may become ill. Infants, young children, the elderly, and people who have compromised immune systems are more at risk of getting sick, with symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, jaundice, headaches, and fatigue. Symptoms might show up as early as a few hours or several days after infection and might last more than two weeks.

What are the precautions during a boil order?

MassDEP recommends these precautions when a boil order is in effect, and to check with your local water department for specific instructions.

  • Get rid of any ice, juice, formula, stored water, and uncooked foods prepared with tap water during the period of concern.
  • Use boiled or bottled water for:
    • drinking
    • food preparation
    • mixing baby formula
    • making ice
    • washing food
    • manual utensil and equipment washing, rinsing and sanitizing
    • brushing teeth
    • any other activity involving the consumption of water.
  • Childcare centers and schools should use only bottled or boiled water for
    • mixing infant formula
    • hand washing
    • mixing sanitizing solutions for diapering areas and surfaces such as tabletops and toys.
  • Retail food establishments must follow the guidance of the local board of health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MassDPH). Wholesale food manufacturers must follow the guidance of MassDPH. Meat processing plants must follow the guidance of MassDPH and the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas that are operated properly, including routine monitoring for adequate disinfection levels, may continue to operate.
  • Share this information with all others who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice, such as visitors. You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.
  • Translate the precautions for anyone who does not understand English.

Tips on how to use water during a boil order

Drinking water: There are two methods that you can use to treat drinking water for microbiological contaminants (bacteria), and both methods are effective against bacteria in water.

  • Boiling: Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Laboratory data shows that this is adequate to make the water safe for drinking. You can also boil water in a microwave oven using a microwave-safe container, but it is advisable to include a glass rod or wooden or plastic stir stick in the container to prevent the formation of superheated water (water heated above its boiling point, without the formation of steam). The water should then be cooled and poured into a clean container or refrigerated until you are ready to use it.
  • Disinfecting: Use disinfectant tablets obtained from a wilderness store or pharmacy. In an emergency, you can use liquid chlorine bleach such as Clorox™ or Purex™ at a dose of 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach to each gallon of water. (Careful measurement with a clean dropper or other accurate device is required when using liquid bleach.) Let stand for at least 30 minutes before use. Read the label to see that the bleach has 5-6% chlorine.

Washing dishes: You may use a dishwasher if it has a sanitizing cycle, but if it doesn’t have one or you are not sure if it does, you may hand wash dishes and utensils by following these steps:

  1. Wash the dishes as you normally would.
  2. As a final step, immerse the dishes for at least one minute in lukewarm water to which a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water has been added.
  3. Allow the dishes to completely air dry.
  4. You may also use boiled and cooled water or bottled water.

Bathing and showering: Sponge-bathe young children, and do not bathe them in a bathtub where they might ingest the water. Do not swallow water when you are showering.

Brushing your teeth: Use only disinfected or boiled water for brushing your teeth.

Ice: Use only disinfected or boiled water to make ice cubes. Freezing does not kill the bacteria or other microorganisms.

Washing food: Use only disinfected or boiled water to wash any fruits and vegetables or to rinse rice or other grains.

Hand washing: Wash your hands with soap and boiled water, or soap and bottled water. If you only have tap water to use, it is best to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after washing your hands. If neither is possible and your hands have been exposed to germs, washing with warm tap water and soap and thoroughly drying your hands is much better than not washing them at all. Try to keep your hands away from your mouth and use hand sanitizer as soon as possible after you’re done.

Cooking: Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute before adding food.

Infant formula: Use only prepared canned baby formula that is not condensed and does not need added water. Do not use powdered formulas that are prepared with contaminated water.

Houseplants and gardens: You can use untreated water for watering household plants and gardens, but do not use untreated water on food plants such as tomatoes or berries.

Pets: The same precautions to protect humans apply to pets. Do not expose aquatic organisms (e.g., fish) to water containing elevated bacteria levels. If you need to refresh the organism’s water, use appropriately boiled or bottled water. 

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