How to stay healthy during the water crisis

Water restrictions are in full effect in Cape Town thanks to the ongoing drought Giant movie.

Here’s a survival guide for you:

In the bathroom

  • A two-minute shower is all you need to get a clean a wash. Turn off the shower when soaping and turn it back on to rinse. Keep a bucket in your shower to collect the water.
  • When you’re finished bathing, keep the water to flush the toilet. When it’s time to flush, fill the tank with water and use the handle on the toilet to flush. This uses less water than dumping water into the bowl.
  • Instead of using drinking water to wash your hands, opt for a waterless hand sanitiser. Look for one that kills at least 99% of bacteria and viruses.
  • Only flush when you need to, and close the toilet bowl if urine has not been flushed. Use disinfectants, face masks and gloves where necessary.
  • Keep the toilet bowl as clean as possible with bleaching and detergent products to minimise odours.
  • Don’t flush wipes and sanitary pads! This can cause blockage.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a dustbin‚ and switch to one-ply toilet paper to prevent blockages when choosing to “let it mellow”.

In the kitchen

  • Fill up a two-litre water bottle for the day and sip from here. Try to eat as many foods as possible that don’t need to be cooked in water.
  • For your fruit and vegetables, keep a bowl of water for rinsing, and by the end of the day you can use the leftover to water your plants or flushing the toilet.
  • Instead of boiling your veggies in water, steam them in the microwave.
  • Stock up paper plates to avoid unnecessarily washing dishes.
  • Stock up about five to 10 litres of drinking water. Remember to keep some for your pets too.
  • Store essential water in a cool and dry place, away from light and dust. Make sure all water bottles are clearly labelled “drinking water”. They should be tightly sealed to avoid contamination.
  • Let your food defrost in the fridge overnight instead of running tap water to defrost.
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  • Only wash your clothes when necessary. A washing machine uses a lot of water for just one load. Hand-wash your clothes, and save the water to flush the toilet.
  • To prevent your towels from smelling, hang them outside to dry. The sun also acts as a germ killer.
  • Sturdier clothes (like jeans and jackets) don’t need to be washed every time you wear them.

Good to know

  • Don’t store non-drinking or grey water (water from bathing, showering, laundry and hand basins) for longer than two days.
  • Don’t use spring, borehole or river water for drinking; it’s not purified.
  • Don’t use sea water or grey water for drinking. It may contain toxic and harmful substances.
  • Collect any and all rainwater that you can. This will be useful for flushing and gardening. Invest in dry shampoo so you can go at least a few days without washing your hair.