Are you worried about drinking from a public water fountain during the pandemic? Water fountains help us stay hydrated in public areas, providing a source of clean drinking water as we go about our day-to-day. But if you're concerned about the health risks of using public drinking fountains, here's how to ensure a hygienic experience.
Drinking from public fountains during a pandemic
COVID-19 appears to survive longer on smooth surfaces like stainless steel and stone compared to porous materials like cardboard or paper. When it comes to public water fountains, the knobs and buttons tend to be the main source of contamination, and not the spout, which is the main passage for drinking water.
Further there's no evidence that you can catch COVID-19 from water itself. That means that public drinking water supplies are generally safe for consumption even if the smooth, hard surfaces around the fountain could theoretically pose a risk for the transmission of germs and viruses.
Extra safety precautions like regular disinfection and cleaning are recommended to limit the spread of COVID-19, although experts agree that the virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that get released into the air when people talk, shout, sing, cough or sneeze, and not through contaminated surfaces.
But if you're still concerned about transmission, there are some things you can do to protect yourself while drinking from public water fountains.
How to minimise contamination from public drinking fountains
If you're worried about the virus lingering on smooth surfaces, you can simply limit any direct contact when drinking from them.
- Bringing a reusable bottle and filling it with water is more hygienic than drinking directly from the fountain. This helps ensure you don't leave any traces of saliva on the drinking fountain, making it safer for others. Fiurther don't allow your water bottle to come into direct contact with the sporut or nozzle when refilling.
- To minimise direct contact with drinking fountains, you can also bring your own water from home, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Bring a "keep cup" or a reusable drinking cup when buying drinks or requesting water from a food establishment. Baristas and serves are instructed to wash their hands frequently when preparing or serving drinks.
The Department of Health has also urged asset owners and managers to clean drinking water fountains more frequently. As part of regular maintenance, Public Health advises asset managers to flush water fountains for five minutes or longer so that fresh water from the supply is drawn through and can be considered safe for public consumption. This is because stagnant water accumulates heavy metals over a certain period and may not always meet the safety limits set by Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Other safety practices when drinking from public water fountains
If you really must drink from a public water fountain without a reusable bottle, here are some safety practices that can help give you peace of mind:
- Test the flow of water and let it run for about 10 seconds to let fresh, clean water come through the spout before drinking from a fountain.
- Don't let your lips make direct contact with the spout itself.
- If you need to push a lever or button to use the fountain, either use your elbow or make sure to wipe down the surface before and after.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds under running water or use an alcohol-based rub after using a public water fountain to reduce the spread of the virus.
Public water supplies are generally safe to drink with standard disinfection practices removing pathogens like viruses. Although there is no additional treatment is required, using a water filter bottle can help remove chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, and other contaminants for healthier and better tasting water. With these tips in mind, you should feel safer and more comfortable about using water fountains when out in public.
Waters Co offers a selection of portable water bottles and jugs to help you stay hydrated on-the-go. Our reusable bottles and water filter jugs have a durable and lightweight design for your convenience. Visit our online shop today for high-quality water filtration systems.