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Mandatory Boil Water Advisories - What you need to know!

A mandatory boil water advisory means that E. coli has been detected in your water. Your water is unsafe to drink!

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria has appeared in recent water samples from your water supply. There are different types of E. coli, some which can cause serious illness such as E. coli 0157: H7. E. coli bacteria are commonly found in the digestive system of humans and animals.

In drinking water sampling, the presence of E. coli strongly suggests a recent fecal contamination. It is used as an indicator to identify the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria.  The maximum acceptable concentration of E. coli is "0" in drinking water.

What do you do now?

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is advising that all water used for consumption be:

  •  Heated to a hard boil for at least 1 minute prior to use (store in a clean, covered container)Boiling Pot of Water


  • Commercially bottled water

Home filtration devices (filters) DO NOT kill bacteria. In your home, these devices could be portable, plumbed-in or faucet mounted.

Besides drinking, boiled water should be used for:

A. Food Preparation. This includes but is not limited to ready to eat foods such as fruits and vegetablesPhoto of Vegetables. and concentrated fruit drinks. However, when preparing food, which requires boiling, you may do so as long

as water is brought to a hard boil for at least 1 minute. Discard all food and beverages previously made with water, such as ice cubes, baby formula, and juices. Disinfect all containers containing these products and remake with boiled water.

Special care should be taken when preparing baby formula; including mixing cereal and juices, as well as Photo of Baby Lying on It's Back and Feeding from a Bottlecleaning bottles. A safe alternative to mixing formula with boiled water would be ready-to-use formulas.

B. Hand washing. Wash hands with liquid soap and rinse using the following solution:

  • Place 1 tsp. (5 mls) of liquid household bleach in 1 gallon (4.5 l) of water.Photo of a Person Washing Hands in Soapy Water
  • Mix and let stand for at least 15 minutes before using.
  • The mixture can be transferred to smaller clean containers for use. 
  • Label the containers as follows: "Chlorine Bleach Solution,
  • Apply to hands after washing. Do not drink." 
  • Alcohol-based hand disinfectants, containing more than 60% alcohol, may be used after washing hands with soap or in situations where water is not available.

Note: The wet wipes used for cleaning babies at diaper change are not effective for disinfecting hands.A Toothbrush and Toothpaste

C. Brushing Teeth
Use boiled or bottled water only.

D. Dishwashing

Mechanical dishwashers may be used as long as a chlorinated detergent is used (please check box label) in the cycle or thereis a sanitizing cycle (check owner manual). Hand dishwashing Photo of a Person Washing Dishes with Plastic Gloves Onmust be done with boiled or bottled water.

Hand dishwashing must be done with boiled or bottled water.

Continue to use your tap water for:


Adults and teens may continue to use untreated water, as long as Water is Not Swallowed. After taking a bath or shower follow the hand washing methods listed above.Photo of Person Showering Legs

When the Medical Officer of Health lifts the Boil Water Advisory, it is recommended that all taps be opened and flushed for one minute prior to use. *Reminder, don't forget to flush the pipe connected to refrigerators that provide drinking water.

Young children should take sponge baths with water, which has been boiled instead of showering or bathing because they may swallow the water.

Individuals that are immunocompromised, have skin lesions or open wounds should take sponge baths with boiled water.Photo of Washing Machine


Laundering is considered safe.

Feeding PetsPhoto of Girl Sitting on the Grass with a Dog

Family pets can become infected with E.coli, there have been known outbreaks involving children handling animals infected with E.coli 0157:H7.

Symptoms of E. coli infection are:

Stomach cramps, diarrhea (possibly bloody), fever, nausea, and vomiting. Anyone who shows symptoms of E.coli should see their physician immediately or contact the Health Unit at 519-258-2146 ext.1444.

If you have any questions or want further information about safe water or water advisories, contact the Health Inspection Department at 258-2146 ext 1476 or 3176

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