Boil Water Alerts

'Boil Water Alert' precautions for schools and child care centres

Children and employees should not consume water, ice or drinks made with water, or raw foods rinsed with water that has not been boiled or filtered.

When possible, parents and caregivers should provide their children with boiled or bottled water, bottled juices or juices prepared with boiled water from home.

Access to drinking fountains should be restricted or turned off where possible, so that students do not drink unboiled water by mistake.

Water should flow unrestricted to toilets and washrooms. Signs should be placed in the washrooms indicating that the water is not for drinking.

Students and staff are advised to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and running warm tap water after using the toilet and handling food. Hands should then be dried thoroughly.

Frequently Asked Questions During a Boil Water Alert

When is a Boil Water Advise Alert recommended?

The Public Health Unit recommends a Boil Water Alert when there is a known contamination of the water supply OR when there is a risk of contamination in the water supply.

What can I drink during a Boil Water Alert?

You can drink tap water if it has been boiled for one minute. Cool and store all boiled water in a covered container.  Kettles with automatic cut-off switches are suitable and variable temperature kettles should be set to boil.  If you do not wish to boil your water, you may choose to buy commercially packaged water for drinking.

 I drank the water before I realised there was a Boil Water Alert. Am I going to get sick?

The Boil Water Alert has been recommended as a precaution. If you drank the water before hearing of the advice, your risk of becoming ill is low. However, if you begin to have fever, diarrhoea or vomiting you should seek medical attention. Advise your health care practitioner that you have consumed tap water during the Boil Water Alert.

Can I use the water for other purposes?

You can use the water for bathing as long as you do not drink it. Supervise babies and children during bathing to ensure that they do not drink the water. Cool boiled water should be used for food preparation, brushing teeth, ice making.

During a Boil Water Alert, how come restaurants/food premises are still open?

When there is a Boil Water Alert, restaurants/food premises are given very specific orders from Council as to how to operate. These orders will ensure that the foods being served to the public remain safe.

How long is boiled water safe to drink?

As long as the water is protected from contamination, it should remain safe to drink. Once the water has been boiled, cover it and place it in the refrigerator for future consumption.

Can my pets drink the water? 

Pets should be provided with cooled boiled water, or water from an alternate source until the Boil Water Alert is lifted.

Can I use my coffee maker?

Most residential coffee makers are not capable of maintaining high temperatures for a long enough period of time to make the water safe to drink. Coffee and tea can be made by using water that has been brought to a rolling boil for a period of one minute or bottled water. If using an automatic shut off kettle, make sure the water has boiled for one minute.

Can I use my activated charcoal filter system (i.e. Brita or other brand names) to treat my water during a Boil Water Alert?

No. These filters are not designed to remove contamination from an unsafe water supply. If you have run the water through your filter during the Boil Water Alert it could be contaminated. It is recommended that you discard the filter and replace it with a new one once the Boil Water Alert is over.

How do I safely prepare my baby’s formula during the Boil Water Alert?

Sterilize all bottles, rings, utensils and nipples in boiling water for two minutes. The water mixed with the formula should boil at a rolling boil for at least two minutes, which will sterilize the water.

Drinking Water and Public Heath Guide (PDF 79KB)

For more information go to:


          Phone:                (02) 6801 4000.


NSW Health website has information on a range of water quality and health issues including drinking water, 

NSW Public Health Unit can provide information on water quality and health or call 1300 066 055.



Last Edited: 27 Jun 2022

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