Keeping healthy without mains water

The Public Health Agency has issued the following advice to the public in relation to keeping healthy when mains water is unavailable.

It is still very important to ensure that your hands are clean before cooking food and eating as many gastrointestinal illnesses are transmitted through dirty hands.

The very young and the elderly are especially vulnerable. For this reason people should:

Use any water you have for hand hygiene first before you use it for showering and bathing

Use antibacterial hand gels or wipes if you have them

Be extra vigilant in supervising small children keeping their hands clean

Ensure that you use a very clean receptacle to collect the water.

If you are unsure regarding cleanliness of the receptacle it is advised that you boil the water and cool it, before using it for cooking and drinking.

How do I flush my toilet without mains water?

Flushing a toilet uses 3-7 litres of water so it is important that unnecessary flushing does not take place.

Toilets do not require sterile water for flushing

Water from distribution points can be used if you have enough to drink

Waste water can be used to flush the toilet such as dish water. You can fill the cistern with that water or pour it down the toilet until the toilet is cleared.

Rain water can be collected in buckets and used for this purpose.

How do I keep my house warm without mains water?

Most houses have central heating systems that are based on radiators filled with water that are heated by an oil or gas boiler.

There is a chance that these systems will be affected by the shortage of mains water supplies. It is important if your heating is not working to take the following steps:

Consult a plumber to assess the cause of the non functioning boiler

If using alternative heating appliances ensure they have been adequately maintained and manufactures instructions are followed.

The important message is to keep yourself warm so:

Wear several thin layers of clothing as they will keep you warmer than one thick layer. Wear a hat, gloves and scarf if necessary.

When inside keeping moving and try not to sit still for more than one hour at a time as activity generates body heat.

Eat well with frequent warm healthy meals and drinks – but avoid alcoholic drink as this can lower body temperature.

Finally the PHA advises that people check on their vulnerable and elderly neighbours who may not be able to get water from distribution points and make sure they have everything they need to keep warm, watered and fed.