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Water Safety

Boiling and storing water during a boil water advisory

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Making tap water safe to drink

During a boil water advisory, you need to boil your tap water before it’s safe to drink it, use it, or store it. Boiling kills harmful germs that might be in the water.

Follow these steps:​

  1. Fill a pot or kettle with tap water and heat it on the stove until it reaches a full boil.
  2. Let the water boil for 1 minute.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the water cool. Then pour the water into a clean, disinfecte​​d container.

If the water tastes flat, leave space for air in the container and shake it well a few times. This will add air to the water, which will make it taste better.​

Choosing the right containers

Store safe water in containers that are clean, disinfected (see below for how to disinfect containers), and made of food-grade plastic. Make sure they’re airtight and sturdy.

You can buy containers at department or camping supply stores, or use clean, disinfected 2-litre pop bottles with tight-fitting screw caps.

If you’re storing a lot of water (for example, in 10-litre or 18-litre water containers), make sure everyone in your home can lift the full containers. One litre of water weighs about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds).

The following containers are not right for storing water:

  • containers that held chemicals such as bleach or laundry detergent
  • milk or juice containers made of plastic or cardboard

Cleaning and disinfecting containers

Follow these steps to clean and disinfect water storage containers:

  1. Wash out the storage containers with hot, soapy tap water and rinse them.
  2. Mix 5 millilitres (1 teaspoon) of unscented liquid, chlorine bleach (5.25%) with 1 litre of safe water (boiled or bottled water). Don’t use bleach that is scented, colour-safe, or includes added cleansers.
  3. Pour the bleach and water mixture into the container. Close the container and shake it well for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour out the mixture and rinse the container with safe water.​​

Storing water

Store water in a cool, dark place. Put the containers or bottles in dark, plastic bags to keep the light out.

You can store boiled water in well-sealed containers for 6 months. Write the fill date on the containers so you know when to refill them. Store at least a 3-day supply of 5 litres of water per day for each person or pet in your home—that’s 15 litres of stored water for each person or pet.

Store-bought bottled water is safe to keep for 1 year in the original, sealed container. Check the expiry date before you use bottled water.

More information

Learn more about safety during a boil water advisory from Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health.

Current as of: July 6, 2022

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services