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Tampa, Fl -- I always believe there is a fine line between mass hysteria and paranoia, and the American society (at least in the Tampa Bay area) on a micro-scale level showed me that here is a fine line between an emergency, thinking that the news have an absolute truth and buying everything they see, which in this case was water as if the zombie apocalypse arrived in town.
According to public releases the cause of the malfunction in the water was caused by an animal (a squirrel) that supposedly chewed through a power line, briefly shutting the city water system. Now comes the point where paranoia strikes. Water fails and half a million customer invade the supermarkets and exhaust the water supplies which if it was hurricane season probably there would be a "state of emergency." and after a trip to the supermarket where I had to buy juice and some food I realized how much people don't read anything and if they read it they won't interpret it or they will accept it as the maximum truth of the day. In my little grocery trip the water aisle was as empty as the one showed in the photo, I actually didn't knew what was happening because there were no inconveniences with the water pressure or ducts and I never drink straight from the hose because no matter what people say I still think is disgusting.
After speaking with a clerk I got a brief explanation that there was a problem with the water in the city but I couldn't achieve a better explanation and the managers seemed busy as it was the weekend but there were on the lobby crates filled with gallons of water at every corner. People around really didn't knew what was happening and then I wonder if they really informed themselves,? or the media didn't said anything or relevance about the issue.
Reading The Tampa Tribune's edition 2/23/2013 it's where I found about the inconvenience of the boil water where the plant was shut for an hour on Friday at 1:30 and by that time supermarket stocks where diminished. The Tribune also stated that pressure in water is the reason that it keeps some diseases away, it's something I knew since I was living in Colombia and there were plenty of problems with the infrastructure on the 90's and even the first decade of the 2000's; where my grandparents always warned to never ingest tap water because is not safe and even when I moved from Colombia I kept the practice on and I know in time of crisis I can find containers boil the water and store but people seriously don't know simple things about house care and what to do to save some money. I remember always when I was growing up that water was boiled in the house and stored in the fridge for later consumption as well never buying gallons at all.
People where insane with their comments by saying there was a powerful disease that was spread in the water plant and that was the reason they had to shut it down from to even more outrageous comments that there was no water in town until a few weeks; while the comments I heard supported my theory that much of the people are ignorant fools that don't read a thing or watch any news and they believe anything they hear from mouth to mouth. If the end of the world was on this weekend people showed absolutely no skills to survive for even an hour.
So what you should do if there is a sanitary emergency with the water.? Simple, bring water to a boiling point and keep it boiling for a minute; do not drink tap water or wash your teeth or your hands for a few days, do not let your dog or cats consume tap water use the same principles as if it was a little person, you can wash your clothes, if you have a weak immune system avoid drinking it for a few days.