While all OA volunteers will be provided with bottled water for drinking, it is still vital to your health to thoroughly understand water safety. Water safety plays a role in dishwashing, food preparation, personal hygiene, and more.
DO NOT drink tap or well water unless it has been sterilized: boiled, filtered,and/or chemically disinfected. Do not drink beverages with ice. Do not use unsterilized water to reconstitute juice. Wash fruits & vegetables with sterilized water only. Wash & rinse dishes with sterilized water.
Boiling is the best method to remove bacteria, viruses, and parasites from water. Boil water vigorously for 1 minute and allow it to cool to room temperature (do not add ice).
At altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (>2,000 m), boil water for 3 minutes or use chemical disinfection after water has been boiled for 1 minute.
Portable Water Filters
Certain types of portable water filters can also remove some types of infectious agents from drinking water. However, most of the portable filters on the market do not effectively remove viruses, thus chemical disinfection of water is needed after filtering with such filters to make the water safer for drinking. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines as to any additional sterilization required.
If boiling water is not possible, chemical disinfection with iodine (e.g., Globaline, Potable-Aqua, or Coghlan’s, found in pharmacies and sporting goods stores) is another method for making water safer to drink. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
In emergency situations, water can be disinfected using two drops of bleach per quart of water. (Bleach is available at local markets in Tanzania. Ask for “Jik” — pronouned jeek.) Water must stand for 30 minutes before using. Water should have a slight chlorine smell.
If you want additional information from the CDC, please click here for a downloadable pdf document on water safety.