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Health advice while under a boil water notice

Tips on handwashing and other health advice while under a boil water notice

New Plymouth is still under a boil water notice and the health of our community remains everyone’s highest priority, says Jonathan Jarman, Taranaki DHB Medical Officer of Health.

“The impacted areas will be under a boil water notice for about a week and there are a few tips people should find helpful to keep themselves and their whānau healthy and well,” adds Dr Jarman.

“Thorough handwashing is really important and you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands,” says Dr Jarman. “The rule of thumb is hand washing with running water for 20 seconds followed immediately by drying your hands for 20 seconds.”

With schools open again this week, Taranaki DHB will be sending appropriate hand washing advice directly to schools and early childhood centres too.

People are also asking about what to do in the situation where they accidentally drink a little bit of the tap water. “Most people who happen to drink the unboiled water will not get sick”, explains Dr Jarman. “However if a person gets symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever then people should contact 0800 Healthline or see their GP,” he adds.

Another frequently asked question is about dishwashing said Dr Jarman. “Dishes can be washed using boiled water but if you are using tap water, dishes washed with water and detergent should be rinsed in a diluted bleach solution afterwards (1/2 teaspoon unscented household bleach per 10 litres of water). Then allow the dishes to completely air dry.”

People are also wanting to know if it’s safe to use their dishwasher. Dr Jarman advises, “If the dishwasher has a hot setting it can be used to wash dishes. Temperatures over 65 degrees are best. But if it does not, then after the finishing cycle, dishes should be rinsed in sterilised water and allowed to dry.” (This process is explained above.)

More tips and health advice are included in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) document about boil water notices. It answers such questions as ‘How do I boil the water?’; ‘What water can I use to brush my teeth?’; ‘How do I prepare food and drinks?’; ‘I have a dishwasher, is it safe to use?’, and ‘Is the tap water safe for my pets or livestock?’

For the full list of FAQ’s go to FAQ's Boil Water Notice or visit the Taranaki DHB Facebook page. For more information on how to protect your health contact a health protection officer at the Taranaki Public Health Unit at free phone 0508 834 274. If anyone is sick or unwell please see a doctor or phone Healthline at 0800 611 116.

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