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Water Emergencies

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Guidelines for child care centres during a water interruption

An interruption is when no water is provided to the facility. In some situations, an interruption in water supply may lead to a Boil Water Advisory once the water supply returns.

Important: If your water has been interrupted, even for a short time, you should confirm the safety of the water supply with the water utility or Oxford County Public Health before resuming use.

In the event of water interruption, listen for media reports and watch for notifications from Public Health during a power outage. In Oxford County, emergency updates can be found on radio on Heart FM 104.7, CKOT Easy 101, Greatest Hits 103.9 FM, Hope FM 94.3, and on the websites and Twitter pages for the Woodstock Sentinel Review and the Tillsonburg News.

Your emergency planning should identify a “person-in-charge” who will be responsible managing the emergency situation and ensuring ongoing compliance with safety requirements.

Drinking water

Immediately:

Secure a supply of potable (drinkable) water by:

  • Using commercially bottled water; or
  • Hauling water from another unaffected approved public water supply in a covered sanitized container, or by arranging for the use of a licensed drinking water hauling truck.

Food preparation and cooking

  • Restrict menu to items that need little or no water to prepare.
  • Use commercially bottled water, water hauled from another unaffected approved public water supply in a covered sanitized container, or water from a licensed drinking water hauling truck.
  • Important: All water used to wash and prepare fruits and vegetables, and any water used as an ingredient in a ready-to-eat food product (coffee, juice, jello, ice, etc.) must be from one of the sources described above.

Handwashing

  • Heat potable water (as described above) and place into an insulated container with a spigot that allows clean, warm water to flow over the hands. Provide liquid soap in a dispenser and paper towels as usual.
  • Follow-up with an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Refer to the Use of Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizers fact sheet for guidance.
  • Post handwashing directions at all sinks.

Diapering

  • Use disposable gloves to change diapers and wash hands with potable water (as described above) and follow-up with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when complete.
  • Wash children’s hands with potable water (as described above) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Refer to the "Use of Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizers" fact sheet  for guidance.
  • Disinfect the diapering area between children with an intermediate-high level chlorine disinfecting solution. Refer to the "Mixing of Chlorine (Bleach) Solution for Disinfection" sheet for guidance.

Water for cleaning and sanitizing

  • Use single service utensils where possible, or, use potable water (as described above) to clean and disinfect equipment and utensils.
  • Ensure proper manual dishwashing is followed. Refer to the "Dishwashing 3 Sink Method" poster for instructions.
  • Note: Food preparation in a facility must be discontinued when cleanliness of the physical facility jeopardizes food safety.

Water to flush toilets

  • Create an emergency “toilet room” within the facility that has an alternate source of water available for manual flushing. Non potable water may be used for this purpose but the water containers must be clearly marked with “Non potable water. This water is unsafe to drink.”
  • Flush the toilet by dumping a bucket of water into the toilet bowl all at one time. This will clear the bowl.

The facility must cease operation and close if:

  • There is no water available for drinking or handwashing
  • Food cannot be safely prepared and served
  • Proper cleaning and disinfecting can not be achieved
  • The water interruption has made safe operation of the facility impossible

For returning to normal operations after the water supply is restored, refer to Returning to Normal Operation after a Water Disruption for guidance.



Adapted from Middlesex-London Health Unit


Quick Reference

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Local emergency updates are on radio on Heart FM 104.7, CKOT Easy 101, Greatest Hits 103.9 FM, Hope FM 94.3, and on Twitter pages for the Woodstock Sentinel Review and the Tillsonburg News.

If water is interrupted, even for a short time, check safety of water supply with your water utility or Oxford County Public Health before using.