Mississippians without power might not be able to boil water, but they can disinfect it. Here’s how.

For some city of Jackson residents, a water boil might seem inconsequential. For others, humdrum. But not every resident is privy to run the gas stove every time they need a safe glass of water.

Some can’t make it to water bottle distribution sites during a hectic schedule. Others lack transportation.

Since two winter storms upended the state last week, PowerOutage.US whittled Mississippi outages from 200,000 on Feb. 18 to 1,800 as of Thursday afternoon. And non-potable and water bottle distribution efforts have surged through the city of Jackson. A precautionary water boil is still underway due to a loss in pressure from freezing temperatures.

While the National Weather Service cautioned Thursday of an evening storm, with a low likelihood to rattle the Delta region, Meteorologist Anna Wolverton said it’s improbable the residual rain that will trickle down into the city of Jackson would cause additional outages.

A boil water notice is in effect for parts of the city of Pearl. Water must be boiled for one minute before consumption.

But for those who might be calculating the bottled water toll on their bank account, or whose power is restored but are still gazing at their electric stoves with worry for future weather events, there are ways to sanitize water without electricity. 

Skipping sanitizing water before drinking, rinsing or cooking with it can make way for a host of organisms —  E. coli and Shigella among them — to sneak into the gastrointestinal tract.

The Mississippi State Department of Health lists symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting as consequences of ingesting unsafe water. Effects can be exacerbated in elderly, immunocompromised and young children — those who often and inadvertently swallow water during bath time. And people with chronic illness or immunocompromised systems should consider using boiled or bottled water for bathing.

What to consider under a water boil:Boil-water notice continues for the city of Jackson. Here’s what you need to know. 

But what drips from the faucet can be disinfected without heat by instead using unscented, household bleach. 

The Mississippi State Health Department lays out a solution: Mix eight drops, or 1/8 teaspoon, of unscented, ordinary 6% household chlorine bleach (six drops for 8.25% bleach) per one gallon of water. Ensure it’s well-stirred, and then let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before use.

If sediments remain after the mixing process, strain it thoroughly. Before use, check the mixture for a slight chlorine odor. If it does not smell of chlorine, repeat the process and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cautions to read labels, looking for ones claiming the bleach is suitable for disinfection and sanitization, precluding the use of scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners. Chlorine, iodine or water purification tablets can also be used to disinfect water for drinking purposes.

And for people fixing a pot of tap water over a hot stove, it’s imperative to boil it for a full minute. 

Once the water-boil advisory is lifted, the Mississippi State Health Department suggests taking five steps:

  • Don’t drink tap water.
  • Don’t use ice made from recent tap water.
  • Don’t use tap water to make drinks, juices or fountain soft drinks.
  • Only cook with tap water if food is boiled for at least one minute.
  • Brush your teeth with boiled or bottled water.

Further questions can be directed to the Mississippi State Department of Health Bureau of Public Water Supply by calling (601) 576-7518.