Water is stocked at Walmart after a boil water notice was issued for the entire city of Houston on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, at Walmart on S. Post Oak Road in Houston. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The city of Houston issued a boil water notice late Sunday night that continues to impact the nearly 2.2 million people in the area.

Now, many Houston-area residents are wondering how safe the water is for use, and what exactly can and can’t you do when trying to avoid illness during the notice.

Here’s what doctors had to say.

Hand washing

Hand washing is safe, says Dr. Shane Magee of Kelsey-Seybold, but he recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer afterward.


The city says bathing is fine.

Dr. Magee said vulnerable populations (in general that means people over 65, kids under five, and immune-compromised patients) may want to try and avoid bathing until the notice is lifted.

“Even if you were to drink bad water, you have to drink enough of it to cause problems and you’ll probably be fine, but you don’t want to risk it,” said Dr. Magee.

Teeth brushing

In theory, any water that’s contaminated that goes in your mouth could cause infection, Dr. Magee said.