Local Plumber Urges Drinking Fountain Hygiene

by | Oct 22, 2014 | Health & Wellness

Drinking fountain photo copyright Fredericksburg.Today

Fredericksburg area plumber Mike Quick was in the Mary Washington Hospital emergency room when he noticed two malfunctioning drinking fountains. “My more than 42 years of plumbing experience has made me realize that sanitary plumbing is one of the most important parts of healthcare and preventive healthcare,” Quick said.

Quick hand-delivered a letter to hospital administration, advising them of the situation. “I noticed both water fountains in the Fredericksburg Emergency Room are dangerously unsanitary. The one to the left is adjusted so the water is barely coming out. Most people probably have to touch their lips on the nozzle to get water. The fountain on the right is also adjusted incorrectly. The water on that one squirts directly against the mouth guard. Most people will have to press their lips on the mouth guard to drink water.”

Quick recommends:

Control buttons on fountains should be adjusted so that every spot pushed results in an immediate and consistent stream of water.
The stream of water must always squirt high enough to keep the drinker’s lips above the nozzle.
Water should never squirt against the mouth guard.

The Water Quality and Health Council confirms Quick’s precautions. Some water fountain surfaces may be contaminated with pathogens from contact with mouths and hands, the group reported.

The group recommends water fountain surfaces be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. “A simple chlorine bleach solution (one tablespoon of bleach in one gallon of water) can do the trick in schools and public buildings that are staffed by custodians. If in doubt about the level of maintenance, the public can use portable wipes on these surfaces to help reduce germ transmission.”

In addition, those using a public drinking fountain are advised to let the water run for 10 seconds before drinking and to keep their mouths off all water fountain surfaces.

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