Guidelines for when abroad

By Leo Bikker

Sliedrecht, the Netherlands – The summer has only just begun and already the questions about Legionnaires’ disease and safety are coming in. What to do when holidaying abroad? What to look for when it comes to the water quality on my boat? And how about the water storage in my caravan? Below you can find some guidelines.

First and foremost: one should try to forget about stress and other troubles during holidays. But many of us are still (and not without reason) concerned about the use of water and possible risk of Legionnaires’ disease at home and abroad.

Firstly, we would like to refer you to our brochure ‘How to cope with legionella’. In addition some general remarks:
* The highest risk is often with the cold-water pipes. ‘Cold water?’ I hear you ask, but this is exactly where the problem could lie if cold water is heated to a temperature higher than 25o Celsius. This is not always a problem, but even a temperature lower than 25o Celsius, combined with prolonged stagnation of the water, could have a negative effect on the water quality.
If the water smells strongly of chlorine the risks are considerably lower or even negligible.
So: cold-water temperatures above 25o Celsius and warm-water temperatures under 60o Celsius could cause problems.
* On moving into a caravan or hotel room, immediately flush out the pipes. Put the shower head in a bucket and be sure to run water through it for at least 10 minutes, using first hot, then cold water. Put a floor cloth or towel over the bucket and try to prevent misting. Close the door and ventilate outwards.
* It is possible that the hot-water temperature is low, because it has been set with a thermostatic mixer valve, in case guests burn themselves. This kind of equipment cannot be detected by guests, but in itself is not dangerous. It is also possible that the water is treated with special equipment; this is also not apparent from the outside. Equipment often does not carry a 100% guarantee (for the technicians among us).
* Given the bad experiences many of us had, your concern is understandable. The best thing to do is to bring adjustable-joint pliers and – if in doubt about safety – to detach the shower head (the most important source of infection with Legionnaires’ disease through misting) and to use a soft jet of water to shower yourself.
* Cold water is also often the biggest problem on a pleasure boat. The quality of water in the shipping world often leaves a lot to be desired. If the filling hose was in the water or in the sun for a long period of time, the quality of the water cannot be guaranteed. The pipes used and the position of the water tank are also very important. It often happens that the water tank is positioned near the engine and you can guess what that means: the water could be heated, with all the attendant risks.
* When it comes to caravans, heating and infrequent changing of the water is of special significance.
* For boats and caravans you could use a small dose of chlorine; you can buy Hadex (which has a chlorine base) at water sports shops. This does not have a strong taste and is harmless if used in the correct dosage.

I hope you will have an enjoyable holiday, untroubled by any concerns. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at +31 (0)6 27 00 46 17.