Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I Learned While Under A Boil Order

Unfortunately, there's been an issue with the water where I live.  I received an email letting me know - thank goodness for citywide email alerts - and our life without constantly available hot and cold running water began.  It's amazing to me how much we rely on having clean, safe water available at our fingertips.

When the wee one went upstairs after breakfast to brush their teeth, I quickly realized that oh wait... we can't just wet our toothbrushes with the water from the sink, nor can we wash them off afterwards.  Sending them their lunches meant that I had to pour bottled water (thank goodness I just hosted a First Communion party and had some!) into their water bottles for school.  I couldn't cook anymore because washing dishes then letting them soak in a bleach solution to make them safe sort of grossed me out - and unfortunately our dishwasher does not have a functioning sanitizer cycle.

Needless to say, putting on water to boil was the first thing on my to do list; the recommendation for us was to boil water for five minutes for it to be safe, adding a little pinch of salt if it tastes off.  Needless to say, I poured the boiled water over  the toothbrushes to clean them, and I used this same water for many of the other functions we routinely take for granted.  Fortunately, we were still able to take showers, flush toilets, and wash our hands.

But I learned something completely useless during this boil order.  Did you know that there's a max fill line on your teapot?  I didn't.  I do now.  And I know why there is one.

If you fill your teapot too full, when it boils, it will start to sputter.  If you make the mistake - and I did - of opening the spout portion where it whistles to help let more steam escape, that isn't all that escapes.  The pressure and everything else instead forces gushes of boiling water out the spout and onto the stove, way more than enough to douse the flames on the burner.

Yeah.  Oops.  Fortunately, it is mostly safe to remove the top lid of the teapot to release some of that excess pressure.  So did you not know why teapots have a max fill line, or is it just me?  Either way... learn from my folly.


Tara R. May 16, 2012 at 8:15 PM  

Last time we had a 'boil order' was after the last hurricane that hit close. You really don't realize how much you use simple tap water.

Glad the a hot, sputtering water didn't hurt you.

Pat May 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM  

How awful to have to boil your water for drinking, cooking with, etc. How long will you have to do that?

I don't own a teakettle. I boil water in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.

Patty May 17, 2012 at 10:59 AM  

I had no idea but thanks for telling me!

Michelle May 17, 2012 at 1:27 PM  

Tara - I take back all my complaints about the boil order! Ours was over quickly and was a one time thing - knock on wood. I didn't even think about the impact of hurricanes, yikes!

Pat - We had to do it for 2 days. We ended up using paper plates and cups so we didn't have to wash the dishes because ... yuck. And we drank bottled water. And we ordered in or ate leftovers so we didn't make more dishes than necessary since we didn't know how long it would last. It's amazing the perspective these little things give us!

Patty - Here's hoping you never have a boil order in NYC. I can only imagine the nightmare there!

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