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Food Safety for Home Cooks

Boil Water Emergencies

If DHEC issues a boil water advisory it means that the water supply in your area may be contaminated, either by a sewage overflow, a water line break, a chemical spill, a natural disaster such as a hurricane or flood, or some other unusual event.

If we issue a boil water notice, it means the water in your area is definitely contaminated.
Your family members could get very sick if they drink the water or use it to cook food.

What To Do

  1. Stop using appliances and equipment that use drinkable water, such as dishwashers, icemakers,  tea brewers and coffee makers.
  2. Use disposable paper, plastic or foam plates, cups, forks, etc.
  3. Prepare food using water that has been boiled.
  4. Wash hands with water that has been boiled and cooled.
  5. Wash, rinse and sanitize pots, pans and other equipment with water that has been boiled and cooled.

When Water Supply is Temporarily Unavailable

Depending on the length of the outage and the type of food you serve, you may need to change your meal plans or use bottled water until water service has been restored.

How to Purify Contaminated Water with Bleach

If you cannot boil contaminated water to kill impurities, you can use bleach:

  • Use unscented liquid chlorine bleach containing 4 to 6 percent available or free chlorine. (“Free” chlorine has not combined with organic matter and is therefore available for killing bacteria and algae.)
  • Add 1 teaspoon of bleach to every 4 gallons of water.
  • Let the treated water stand for 30 minutes before drinking or for food-related purposes.
Image depicting ratio of bleach to water

Chemical Contamination

Never use water that has been or may have been contaminated with chemicals. Do not use it for cooking, drinking, hand washing, pets, etc., until the water has been declared safe by DHEC or your local water authority.