Can You Shower During a Boil Water Advisory?

Water is a fundamental part of our lives, and when a boil water advisory comes into effect, it can disrupt our daily routines. A common question that arises during such advisories is: Can you shower during a boil water advisory? This article aims to provide a comprehensive answer to this query while offering practical tips to ensure your safety during such situations.

What is a Boil Water Advisory?

A boil water advisory is a public health measure issued by health or municipal authorities to residents when the local water supply becomes potentially unsafe to consume due to contaminants. The contaminants can be anything from bacteria, viruses, parasites, or harmful chemicals. During a boil water advisory, it’s recommended to boil tap water before using it for activities like drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, and washing dishes.

Showering During a Boil Water Advisory: Is It Safe?

The short answer is yes; it’s generally safe to shower during a boil water advisory. This might come as a surprise, considering the caution required for other water-related activities during such advisories. However, it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind this exception and the precautions you need to take.

Water contamination mainly poses a risk when it’s ingested, and showering doesn’t typically involve swallowing water. The skin acts as a natural barrier to bacteria and viruses, reducing the risk of infection from contact alone.

However, some important caveats must be considered. If you have open wounds, cuts, or a compromised immune system, showering in potentially contaminated water could lead to infection. Moreover, extra care should be taken to ensure the water doesn’t enter your mouth or eyes, as mucous membranes are more susceptible to infection.

For those who find it challenging to prevent water from entering their mouth or eyes, or for those who prefer to be extra cautious, sponge baths using boiled and cooled water can be an effective alternative. This method allows you to maintain hygiene without the risk of ingesting or having direct contact with unboiled water on sensitive areas.

Guidelines for Showering During a Boil Water Advisory

Here are some useful tips to ensure your safety while showering during a boil water advisory:

  1. Avoid swallowing water: Make a conscious effort to keep your mouth closed while showering.
  2. Protect your eyes: Try to avoid getting water in your eyes. If necessary, consider using swimming goggles for protection.
  3. Consider a sponge bath for young children: Young children might find it difficult to avoid swallowing water or getting it in their eyes. For them, a sponge bath with cooled boiled water could be a safer alternative.
  4. Cover open wounds or cuts: If you have any open wounds, cuts, or sores, consider covering them with waterproof plasters before showering.
  5. Use boiled water for shaving: When shaving, you’re likely to open up small nicks in the skin. It’s safer to use boiled and cooled water for this purpose during a boil water advisory.
  6. Avoid hot tubs and swimming pools: Hot tubs and swimming pools are a no-go during a boil water advisory as the high contact with water significantly increases the chances of accidental ingestion.

Post-Shower Hygiene Measures

After showering, it’s crucial to dry yourself thoroughly. Moist environments can encourage bacterial growth. Pay special attention to drying areas like between your toes and other skin folds.

In addition, use hand sanitizers or wipes to clean your hands after using the toilet or before meals, as they don’t require water. For activities that require clean water, such as brushing your teeth or washing dishes, use boiled or bottled water.


The occurrence of a boil water advisory can disrupt our lives, but with the right knowledge and precautions, we can continue with most of our daily routines safely. Yes, you can shower during a boil water advisory, but remember the key guidelines: avoid swallowing water, protect sensitive areas, and consider alternatives for young children or those with compromised immune systems.

When it comes to personal hygiene during a boil water advisory, being cautious is paramount. Stay informed, follow guidelines provided by health authorities, and always prioritize your safety and health.

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