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What You Need to Know about COVID-19 and Water

kitchen faucet running water into cup

Learning all you can about the coronavirus, how it is transmitted and what can be done to stop the spread of the virus is essential for healthy living right now.

We may not love that we have to drop everything to get an education in virus micro-particles, but the information we learn could save lives… including our own.

Researchers are working around the clock to deliver updated information about how this particular coronavirus spreads and how to stop it.

In this blog post, learn what the latest news has to say about whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through water and how water can be used to protect yourself.

Can You Get COVID-19 from Water?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued its updated findings on whether coronavirus can be transmitted through water.

While this is subject to change at any time, for now, the CDC states it is very unlikely you could contract COVID-19 from waterborne viral particles.

However, there is one exception, which is black water (water that may contain feces or fecal particulates).

Researchers have discovered COVID-19 can be shed out through fecal matter, although to what extent is not currently known.

According to the CDC, any individual or worker who may potentially come into contact with wastewater should take every precaution, including the proper use of PPE (protective personal equipment).

If you have a home septic system or composting toilet, or if you need to have any plumbing or sewage work done at your property, proper use of PPE and disinfectants is a safety must.

Stay Healthy with these Black Water Sanitation Steps

The CDC has published a list of steps to take if you may be exposed to black water or waste (human or animal).

Here are the highlights:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and hot water immediately.

  2. Wear waterproof gloves.

  3. Wear sturdy, tall rubber boots.

  4. Keep your hands away from your face, mouth, nose and eyes.

  5. Disinfect all apparel with a solution of 1:100 bleach: water.

  6. Never smoke, chew gum or eat while around black water or waste.

  7. Flush eyes if contamination is suspected or known.

  8. Wear extra protective gear including liquid-retardant clothing, mask and goggles.

Extra Water Safety Steps to Take

While it may feel reassuring to know that the risk of contracting COVID-19 through contact with regular water is low, the truth is that we learn something new about this strain of coronavirus nearly every day.

Coronavirus can jump from people to animals to people

For instance, we now know that the CoV-SARS-2, a zoonotic virus that originally jumped from animals to people, can also jump back from people to animals.

An unlucky Malayan tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has confirmed this fact.

Coronavirus doesn’t like warmth or humidity

We also know that coronavirus particles fare less well under warmer and more humid environmental conditions.

In fact, we know that a temperature of 18°C (64.4°F) or higher and relative humidity of 50 percent or higher can potentially reduce new cases COVID-19.

Coronavirus spread may be limited by wearing masks

And we know that the use of face masks – even homemade cloth masks – may be beneficial in reducing the transmission of coronavirus particles. This is especially the case when mask use is combined with social distancing.

How Coronavirus Interacts With Water

Yet another important fact we know is that warm or hot water is an effective method of protecting from coronavirus transmission when combined with soap and vigorous scrubbing.

However, just washing with warm or hot water alone is not going to be sufficient to neutralize viral particles.

As CNN Health explains, those essential 20 seconds of handwashing protect you from not only COVID-19, but also influenza and all four known coronavirus strains that recycle again and again in humans.

Hot water above 70°C (158°F) on its own can also neutralize coronavirus particles. But water that is this hot should be used only for cooking, as it can cause severe and even life-limiting burns.

Combining hot water with soap is essential to neutralize the coronavirus because it is the soap that contains the properties required to dissolve the thin protective “skin” covering the virus itself. Once that protective coating has been breached, the virus can no longer cause any harm.

Hot Water Is Essential for Disinfection Right Now

While hot water alone won’t be enough to stop the coronavirus from spreading, it is essential to use hot water to help disinfect your home, apparel and food.

Before now, there was a trend toward using cold water for washing clothes and dishes, and for home cleaning use.

In normal times, this is a great choice to help save money on energy costs and also to reduce wear and tear on your home or office hot water heater.

But for right now, the CDC recommends using hot water for washing dishes and clothes and cooking and food preparation surfaces.

Coronavirus Spreads Primarily through Airborne and Surface Contact

We realize there are increasing numbers of myths about how coronavirus spreads and how to stay safe.

Here, it is important to remember that what researchers do know so far is much less than what they don’t know.

One thing scientists do know is that coronavirus particles transmit most easily not through water, but through air and touch.

Maintaining clean air and doing everything you can to clean and sanitize skin, apparel, belongings and shared surfaces is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones right now.

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HVAC, electrical and plumbing have all been deemed essential services during the stay at home order here in Ontario.

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