Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.6 Water Supply and Plumbing Emergency Safe Drinking Water and Bottled Water

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 08/27/2020.

Children should have constant access to fresh, potable water if the regular approved supply of drinking water is temporarily interrupted. Do not use water that is suspected to be contaminated to wash dishes or toys, brush teeth, wash and prepare food, wash hands, make ice, or make baby formula. Emergency safe drinking water should be supplied during interruption of the regular approved water supply. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water.1 Bottled water should be certified as chemically and bacteriologically potable by the US Food and Drug Administration or local health department, or its designee.

In a disaster or emergency situation, listen to updates from emergency officials on the state of the community’s water supply and for instructions to boil tap water before use (to stay informed of such updates, make sure the early care and education program emergency kit includes a battery-operated radio). Do not attempt to drink water that is believed to have been contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals; boiling and other disinfectants will not work to purify it.2

If bottled water is not available, boiling water is the best way to purify drinking supplies and kill disease-carrying bacteria, viruses, and parasites.2 If the water is cloudy, first filter it through a clean paper towel, cloth, or coffee filter before boiling.3 Bring the water to a boil and allow it to boil for at least 1 minute.4 Store boiled water in clean glass or bisphenol A–free plastic containers with tight lids.

If boiling water is not an option, use unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets. Keep in mind that while such methods are effective at killing harmful bacteria and viruses, only chlorine dioxide tablets and boiling will kill disease-carrying parasites. To purify water using unscented household chlorine bleach, add one-eighth teaspoon for every gallon of clear water and one-fourth teaspoon for every gallon of cloudy water. Stir the water and let it sit for 30 minutes before using it. To use iodine or chlorine dioxide tablets, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Use bottled water if instructed. Bottled water can be used by early care and education programs, provided that the bottles are kept in the proper environment, and should be stored in a pantry or similar environment free from excessive heat or sunlight for 1 to 2 years.6 However, long-term storage of bottled water may affect the odor and taste. For this reason, bottlers may voluntarily put expiration dates on their labels. Early care and education programs should keep bottled water away from chemicals and cleaning agents.6 If early care and education staff suspect any contamination of stored bottled water (eg, smells funny, has algae growth), discard or boil it before using it in an emergency.

Commercial bottled water containers should not be used for any purpose other than to hold drinking water. All drinking water containers must be thoroughly washed and sanitized prior to being refilled with drinking water.


Flooding, earthquakes, landslides, other natural disasters, or emergencies can affect the safety of drinking water, making it unsafe to consume.6 Sometimes, after a disaster, there may be chemicals in the water that boiling cannot remove.5 Child care facilities are prepared to deal with emergency situations when protocols are in place for times when the regular source of water might be contaminated or unsafe. In addition, depending on the geographic location of the program, a written plan, prepared in advance, is important in disaster planning and maintaining the safety and health of children in care.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Supply of Food and Water for Disasters Water Supply Testing of Drinking Water Not From Public System Plastic Containers and Toys
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Natural disasters and severe weather. Keep food and water safe after a disaster or emergency. Reviewed February 20, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020

  2. American Public Health Association. Keeping food and water safe in an emergency. Accessed May 18, 2020

  3. US Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fact sheet: how to make your water safe to drink. Updated January 3, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water, sanitation, & hygiene (WASH)-related emergencies & outbreaks. Making water safe in an emergency. Reviewed February 24, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drink safe water. Accessed May 18, 2020

  6. NSF International. Five facts you should know about bottled water. Published December 19, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 08/27/2020.