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After a Weather Emergency: Is It Safe to Drink the Water?

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After a weather emergency, you may be concerned about the safety of your drinking water. If you’re on a public water system, your local water-utility office can tell you about water safety problems and what to do. The health department can answer your questions about private wells. Don’t drink any tap water until the local authorities say it’s okay.

If you are approached by someone trying to sell you a water treatment device:

Avoid "free" home water tests. Offers to test the tap water in your home for free are almost always part of a sales promotion. More important, in-home testing does not provide the specific, in-depth analysis that is required to determine if your water needs treatment and what kind of system is suited to your needs.

Be wary of claims of government approval. The government does not endorse water tests or water treatment products. If you see an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on a water treatment product label, it merely means that the manufacturer has registered its products with the EPA. A registration number does not mean the EPA has tested or approved the product. 

If your water really is contaminated, the next step is to determine what type of system you need to treat the water. A wide variety of water treatment devices are available, ranging from relatively simple, low-cost filter devices for faucets to sophisticated and expensive systems that treat water from its point of entry into your home. No water treatment device can solve every problem. Some systems only soften water by removing calcium and magnesium, while others eliminate virtually all minerals and foreign matter present in the water.

To learn more, contact the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or visit Drinking Water.

For more information to help you cope in the event of a weather emergency, visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

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