Skip links and keyboard navigation

Public health & wellbeing > Disaster management

Ensuring safe drinking water

Safe drinking water copyright
Having access to adequate supplies of safe drinking water during and immediately after a disaster is one of the most important parts of protecting your health. However, drinking water supplied by your local council or your water utility may not be available or safe to drink after a disaster. As a result, you should include adequate supplies of safe drinking water in your emergency kit. If you haven’t prepared adequate supplies of safe drinking water, the following information can help you treat water to ensure its safety.

During and immediately following a disaster

Local councils and water utilities have an obligation to alert the public if they know or suspect the safety of the water has been compromised as a result of a disaster. Listen to your local radio and TV station or check your local council’s website (if possible) for updates on the water supply. It is important that any advice provided through these channels is followed

Make water safe

If your local council or water utility knows or suspects drinking the water might make you sick because of disease-causing microbes they will advise you to boil the water before consumption. Water should be brought to the boil and then allowed to cool in clean, covered containers before use. Boiled water can scald so it is safer to use a kettle rather than pots and pans. If you have no electricity and have to use pots, always take care with young children and vulnerable people. Keep pan handles turned inward so children cannot reach them. The use of bottled water is another safe alternative. Use cooled, boiled water or bottled water for:

Dirty dishes should be washed in hot soapy water, rinsed in hot water and left to completely air-dry before using again. You don’t need boiled water for toilet flushing and clothes washing.

Water contaminated by chemicals (including fuels) will not be made safe by boiling. Use a different source of water if you know or suspect that water might be contaminated with chemicals.

Further information

Last Updated: 14 December 2015
Last Reviewed: 25 October 2013

Key contacts

In an emergency, call 000 for police, fire or ambulance
test image 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
Call 13 HEALTH at any time for practical health advice and assistance following the disaster.
Twitter logo Twitter
Follow Queensland Health news updates.
facebook logo Facebook
Follow Queensland Health on Facebook.
Get Ready Queensland Get Ready Queensland
Visit the Get Ready Queensland website and find out how you can get prepared for natural disasters and severe weather.