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RV Nightmare: Campground Boil Water Notice

RV Nightmare: Campground Boil Water Notice

It can be frustrating to stay in a campground and receive a boil water notice. It can happen with little to no warning and potentially ruin your RV trip if you’re unprepared. 

We have had to deal with and want to help you avoid this nightmare and still have an enjoyable experience if a campground issues a boil water notice. 

Let’s dive in and see what you need to know to better prepare yourself and your rig for this situation. Let’s get started.

campground water supply
Is your water safe to drink?

What Is a Boil Water Notice?

Local officials issue boil water notices when pathogens or other potentially hazardous substances have infected a community’s water supply. These notices go by other names as well, such as “boil-water warning,” “boil-water order,” or “boil order.” What they’re called isn’t nearly as important as how they protect you and others from consuming unsafe water. These typically last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours but could last longer if conditions do not improve.

What Causes a Boil Water Notice?

Boil water orders can occur at any time and sometimes even without notice. Water line breaks, disruptions in treatment, power outages, and flooding can all cause a boil order. 

If a water utility company plans to work on the water system, they may send an advance notice to boil water. This could affect all or a portion of the users connected to the system.

In RV parks it’s common for maintenance to need to work on the water system and many times required that the campground issue a boil water notice. You can think of a campground as a small municipality with its own power, water, and sewer systems that all need upkeep and sometimes repair.

Close up of kettle boiling water on camper stove
Avoid consuming potentially hazardous substances by boiling your water while camping.

Campgrounds Are Subject to Boil Water Notices Too

Campgrounds typically rely on local water supplies to provide campsites and their various facilities with water. If the local utility company issues a boil water notice, it could affect the campground. If this does occur, they’ll likely post signs or notify all campers regarding the boil water notice.

Campgrounds that use a well may still be required to issue a boil water notice any time they make a change or repair to the water system.

While it can be frustrating, it’s typically outside of a campground’s control. The campground is a utility company customer like any other business or residence. Remember that they also experience the inconvenience and likely feel as frustrated as you. 

You may notice tape or signage on drinking fountains and water sources around the campground until the boil water notice ends.

Is It Safe to Shower During a Boil Water Notice?

You can usually shower and bathe safely during a boil water notice. However, you should avoid swallowing or getting water in your mouth. You never know what could be in the water that caused the boil water order.

If you need to bathe babies or small children, you’ll likely want to consider giving them a sponge bath. This will help reduce their chances of getting unclean water in their mouths. 

While you have smaller risks of showering or bathing in contaminated water, it’s better safe than sorry.

Aerial view of camper van stove top and kettle
Boil water notices can be unwanted surprises and major inconveniences while camping.

What Happens if You Drink Water During a Boil Water Notice?

Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s easy to forget about a boil water notice. If you consume water without boiling it, don’t panic. The chances of getting ill are very slim. Most boil water orders are a precaution to minimize the already small chances of anyone experiencing an issue.

However, contact a medical professional if you experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal cramps. Any issues related to water consumption will likely present themselves within 12 to 24 hours. If you experience symptoms after 24 hours, they’re likely unrelated to the unclean water.

Be Prepared for the Chance of a Boil Water Notice at Your Campground

RVs are one of the best places to wait out a boil water notice as long as you prepare. If you receive a notice, fill your fresh water tank before the warning goes into effect. Keeping your freshwater tank full is also great

Then manage your water usage to ensure you can make the water last for the duration of the notice. However, you can likely make it last several days with minimal effort.

You don’t have to cancel your trip if you discover a campground you’ve reserved has an active boil water order. Simply fill up your fresh water tank outside the affected area to have a full tank of clean water to use in your RV. 

Self-sufficiency and preparation for these situations is one reason many people love RVs.

Can-Filters Make Water Safe Without Boiling

Filtering water is always a great idea, especially in an RV because you never know what the quality of water is that you are getting. However, most filters do not capture all pathogens.

If you want to filter water to make it safe for drinking with known pathogens you need a filter with an “Absolute” micron rating. Most micron ratings are average and will have passages that are greater than their smallest rating. Usually, ceramic filters are the only type that has these types of ratings and we have used the aqua cera cerametix filter to make water drinking safe before. Keep in mind that these filters significantly reduce water flow and are best for dedicated drinking water taps.

Our preferred method of making water safe is to use UV light to “sanitize” the water. We highly recommend the Acuva UV water filter and use it on every RV we own. Previous to using this filter Tom got sick with a parasite that the UV would have killed.

Using the UV sanitizer as the final step for drinking water we are confident that it is safe to consume even during boil water notices.

Pro Tip: Acuva has partnered with us to be able to provide you a 10% discount. Get it on the Deals And Discounts Page

RV Faucets and Filters That Will Effortlessly Save & Purify Water - RV Touch Faucet

What to Do During a Boil Water Notice at Your Campground

If you cannot fill your fresh water tank before the boil water notice, it’s not the end of the world. You don’t need to pack up your things or cancel your trip. It may not be convenient, but you can do several things to make do.

Boil Water

The most important thing you need to do is boil any water you consume. Additionally, if camping below 6,500 feet elevation, let the water boil for at least one minute. When camping above 6,500 feet, boil the water for at least three minutes.

Don’t forget to let the water cool before using. You’ll likely want to boil enough water to have some available for multiple uses. You don’t want to wait for the water to boil every time you need to use it. 

Furthermore, you should boil your water regardless of whether or not you have a water filtration system connected to your RV’s drinking system.

Avoid Using Water From Appliances

It’s easy to forget that some of the appliances in your RV will utilize your water system. If your RV’s refrigerator or ice maker connects to the plumbing system, refrain from using water from these appliances. If you enjoy cold drinks, buy a bag of ice from a local gas station or grocery store. You don’t want to consume unboiled water during a boil water notice.

Hand holding hose filling up fresh water tank.
Fill up your fresh water tank before the boil water notices take effect to ensure you have usable water throughout your trip.

Wash Hands Thoroughly

You’ll still need to wash your hands during a boil water notice. Make sure you scrub your hands thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds. Always use soap, or your hands won’t get clean. If no soap is available, use hand sanitizer to kill any germs. 

If you need a refresher, the CDC provides important reminders and tips to keep your hands clean.

Be Careful Bathing and Showering

Luckily, you can still bathe during a boil water notice. Still, you’ll want to take extra precautions to avoid getting water in your mouth or swallowing it. You’ll have nothing to worry about if you’re using clean water from your RV’s fresh water tank. However, you’ll want to be careful if you connect to the campground’s water supply. Parents should consider giving babies and children sponge baths to avoid getting water in their mouths.

Brush Your Teeth

Furthermore, you can still brush your teeth. You should only use boiled or bottled water when brushing your teeth. You don’t want to rinse off your toothbrush or rinse out your mouth with unclean water.

It may not be nearly as convenient as turning on the tap, but at least you’ll have good oral hygiene. Luckily, since you won’t consume the water, you can still use the tap water to rinse out the sink. Just don’t let the water come in contact with your toothbrush.

Little boy brushing his teeth in an RV
Only use boiled or bottled water, even when brushing your teeth, during a boil water notice!

Washing Dishes

You can still do dishes during a boil water notice, but it will not be as convenient. If you feel okay using disposable plates, cups, and cutlery, do so. However, if you dislike disposable products, you have other options.

If your RV has a dishwasher, you can continue to wash dishes as usual. The CDC states that dishwashers are typically fine to use and wash dishes as long as they have a sanitation cycle and the water reaches at least 150 degrees.

If you do not have access to a dishwasher, you can wash your dishes like normal and then use a separate basin with one teaspoon of liquid bleach for each gallon of water. Let the plates soak in the mixture for at least a minute, then let them air dry before their next use.

Pro Tip: Don’t want to waste time boiling water? Use one of these 6 Top-Rated Water Purification Tablets instead.

Water for Pets

Just like you wouldn’t consume unclean water, neither should your pet. Do not let your pet drink the tap water during a boil water order. You should only use bottled or boiled water in their water bowls. If you go the boiled water route, give the water plenty of time to cool down to avoid seriously injuring your pet.

Pro Tip: Boiling isn’t the only way to purify your water. Check out these 5 Ways to Purify Water for Survival in the Wilderness.

Commonly asked questions about boil water notices | KVUE

Stay Safe During a Boil Water Notice

While a boil water notice in a campground can cause some frustration, it’s not the end of the world. It may be inconvenient, but life goes on. Don’t let it ruin your trip or mood because of the slight inconvenience it can create.

Maintain a positive attitude and help others focus on the positives of camping rather than the momentary inconvenience. If you follow the tips we’ve shared today, you can still have a fun and safe camping trip during a boil water notice.

Have you ever experienced a boil water notice while camping? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Dana D Lakeman

Sunday 30th of October 2022

I noticed in the first pic the water pressure regulator is connected to the camp water facet. I read a recommendation that the water filter(s) be connected to the camp water facet first then connected the regulator. Reason was, the water filter(s) would filter water going to the pressure regulator therefore preventing buildup of lime, calcium, etc. in the pressure regulator. Made sense to me.

Robyn

Sunday 30th of October 2022

We experienced this just recently. We arrived to the campground in Utah with this notice to boil. No drinking, cooking, washing or teeth brushing. What bothered us was we were in contact with the campground that morning on the phone. The clerk never told us to prepare. There had been a flood which broke a main water line to the town and cpg 5 days before we were to arrive. It wasn't a situation that had just happened. Normally we have our fresh tank full but didn't this time. We stayed one night and luckily found another campground farther down the road away from the broken water pipe. We both felt it was irresponsible of the cpg not to tell us of the situation. Being the town was effected there was no water in their stores. There were only 3 places in the town. 2 gas stations and a (small) grocery store. Lesson learned. Always have a case of water and full fresh water tank filled.

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