What Is a Boil Water Advisory? Your Comprehensive Guide

What Is a Boil Water Advisory? Your Comprehensive Guide

Water is a fundamental necessity. We rely on it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and more. But what happens when your tap water suddenly becomes unsafe to use? That's where a "boil water advisory" comes into play. Sometimes, it can be confusing to understand what a boil water advisory is and what you need to do before, during, and after one. But we’re here to talk you through everything, so don’t panic.

What Is a Boil Water Advisory?

Local authorities or water utilities will issue a boil water advisory (BWA) as a public health notice to inform the community that harmful bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens may contaminate the tap water and public water line. This advisory is issued to ensure the public's safety, as consuming contaminated water can lead to serious health issues. It should be followed until water quality tests provide a sample result that confirms it’s safe to resume regular water usage.

Person bringing the water to a rolling boil

1. What Is a Boil Advisory?

A boil advisory and a boil water advisory are essentially the same. Both terms refer to a public notice urging residents to boil tap water before using it for drinking, cooking, or other purposes. However, knowing both terms is good to avoid confusion.

2. How Long Do Boil Orders Last?

The duration of a boil water advisory can vary widely depending on the severity of the contamination and the steps taken to rectify the issue. Some advisories may last a few days, while others could extend for weeks. It’s crucial to stay updated through official channels during this time.

3. Can I Still Shower with a Boil Water Advisory?

In most cases, it is safe to shower during a boil water advisory as long as you avoid swallowing or ingesting the water. Be cautious, especially with young children, and supervise their showers to prevent accidental ingestion. If you have any hesitations, you can boil some water and have a sponge bath as an alternative. Always be sure to follow local guidelines when it comes to showering during a boil water advisory.

4. Can I Wash Dishes with a Boil Water Advisory?

Yes, you can wash dishes during a boil water advisory, but you should use hot, soapy water and then rinse them with boiled or bottled water. You can also use dishwashers with high-temperature settings.

5. Can You Brush Your Teeth During a Boil Water Advisory?

You can brush your teeth during a boil water advisory, but using boiled or bottled water for brushing and rinsing is essential. Avoid using tap water directly from the faucet.

6. Can You Do Laundry During a Boil Order?

It is generally safe to do laundry during a boil water advisory, as washing usually involves an entire cycle with detergent. However, ensure that you don't ingest any water while doing so.

A woman pouring a glass of water from the Spout AWG

What to Do Before, During, and After a Boil Water Advisory


Stay informed by signing up for local alerts and notifications to receive timely information about boil water advisories and other emergencies. Stock up on water and have an emergency supply of bottled water, or invest in a reliable water system, like the Spout Atmospheric Water Generator, which can produce water that is safe to drink from the air. This advanced technology extracts moisture from the air, purifies it, and converts it into clean, safe drinking water. It's a reliable water supply that doesn't depend on the public water distribution system, making it an excellent choice for emergencies and everyday use.


If you receive a boil water advisory due to concerns about water quality, bring tap water to a full rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for drinking, cooking, or even making ice. If boiling is impossible, use bottled water or a reliable source for consumption and cooking.

What to do after a boil water advisory is lifted

After the advisory is lifted, run cold water faucets for a few minutes to flush out any remaining contaminated water in your plumbing system. Clean and disinfect appliances like coffee makers, ice makers, and water heaters that may have been in contact with contaminated water. If you use water filters, replace them as advised by the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

A boil water advisory is a precautionary measure to protect public health when tap water is contaminated. Knowing what to do before, during, and after an advisory can help you and your family stay safe. Additionally, having a dependable water source like the Spout Atmospheric Water Generator ensures you always have access to clean and safe drinking water, regardless of the circumstances. Stay informed and prepared, and prioritize your health and safety when a boil water advisory is issued.