South Florida

The water is flowing again in Fort Lauderdale. But should you drink it?

Fort Lauderdale’s water is running again — but it doesn’t mean you should drink it.

A 48 hour boil-water notice took effect Thursday evening. It came hours after the city entered a local state of emergency as workers continued to patch a break in a 42-inch water pipe.

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With the interruption of water service, customers in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas had to stock up on bottled water.

Now, with the tap running again, they should boil the water for at least a minute, let it cool and then store it in a clean, disinfected container.

We’re not just talking about drinking water. You also need to boil water if you plan on brushing your teeth, wash dishes, cook or make ice. Oh, and you can’t make coffee.


The water might be contaminated with viruses, bacteria or parasites so unless you’re planning a trip to the doctor’s office, you should boil the water during this advisory.

Coffee makers also can’t maintain the high temperatures needed to make the water safe to drink. The good news is that you can still drink your coffee if you boil the water before putting it into the coffee maker, according to Health and Social Services.

If you ever hear that the water may be contaminated with toxic chemicals or fuel, boiling and disinfecting it will not make it safe to drink, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the water reaches this level of contamination, you must find an alternate water source.

What if I drink tap water during a boil water advisory?

Well, you might get sick.

Diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and fatigue are some of the more common symptoms, according to Texas A & M University Corpus Christi boil water safety guide. Symptoms may appear in a few hours to several days after getting infected and could last more than two weeks, the guide states.

Contaminated water can also lead to various health issues like gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders, according to the CDC website.

Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with weak immune systems may also be more susceptible to falling ill.

Your pets could also get sick, so make sure you boil their water, too.

It’s important to remember that these symptoms aren’t exclusive to water-borne illnesses, but if you have any of them, you should see a doctor.

Do I need to boil water for baths or showers?

Nope. As long as you don’t swallow the water you can take a regular shower or bath. If you have an open-wound or a weak immune system, you should boil the water to be safe. Toddlers and infants though should be sponge-bathed, according to the university’s guide.

I need to use water for my baby formula. What do I do?

Boil the water. You can also sterilize the water by mixing 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented household chlorine bleach per gallon of water, according to Florida’s Health department. Then let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before use.

You can also use ready-to-feed formulas. They don’t need mixing or water.

To learn more about boil water advisories, you can visit the CDC’s website for more info.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM