For years, tourists have been asking about the safety of the drinking water in Mexico. Have times and changing technology enabled us travelers to casually grab a glass of H2O from the tap? To brush our teeth without worry? Unfortunately, not yet.
Despite the increasing number of water filtration systems being implemented within Mexico, the answer remains a resounding "No." Ingesting water tainted with bacteria is an easy way to get yourself very sick. But don't let that change your vacation plans. Instead, here is information to help keep yourself and your traveling companions healthy.
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1. Drink bottled water
Do this as a rule, and make sure the cap is securely sealed before you imbibe. As water-based illness is a real concern in Mexico, you are apt to find bottled water wherever you find yourself – resorts, restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, resort mini-shops, you name it.
2. Skip the ice
Generally, larger resorts and restaurants have their ice brought in by distributors, ensuring that the water is filtered before it is frozen. If you feel worried that it hasn’t been, skip it, it’s very European. It’s important to note that smaller hotels and local dining options may not have the same opportunity to filter their water, so double-check or do without.
3. Pass on the salad
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Everyone wants to know about the salad. The larger resorts report that all water coming into their facilities is filtered twice, once at the city source and once on the resort proper. If they wash the greens in that twice-filtered water, they should be clean.
Still, ask yourself if it is worth the risk. Random hotels and restaurants may not have the same processes. If you are unsure, skip the greens for a week. Heck, if you are on a family vacation, your kids will be thrilled.
4. Go ahead, brush your teeth
That double-filtered water appears to be the norm at the larger resorts, from the taps in the bathroom to the showerheads to the sinks in the kitchen. That said, it's just as easy to use that handy bottled water on those pearly whites, and it will keep your risk of ingestion even lower. Need a drink of water after brushing? Drink bottled water. But please, continue to brush.
5. Don't swish the shower water
If you're a shower-water-swisher, maybe refrain for this vacation. Just to be on the safe side.
6. Drink safe drinks
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Pasteurized, fermented or carbonated. All three processes kill bacteria, or inhibit its growth. Coffee, hot tea, canned soda and juice, beer, wine and alcohol are all a safe bet. Phew! At this point, you must be thirsty, so go ahead, have that fruity vacation drink!
7. Clean it yourself
At the same place you find that bottled water, you're likely to find a product called Microdyn® (or something similar). It's a disinfecting agent that you can use to wash your fruit and vegetables, and disinfect your water so you can drink it, use it in your coffee, cook with it, clean your cooking utensils with it and more.
You can also use it with public water, so if you're out somewhere without access to bottled water, add it to your water before you drink. You can also use water filtration tablets, but make sure to read the directions closely as they may take extra time to dissolve.
8. Stay for a long vacation
Some experts recommend that you try to become accustomed to the water in small amounts over time.
9. Bring medicine
Even the most cautious traveler can inadvertently ingest water. That said, make sure you have at least some over-the-counter medicine with you to help. Be on the alert for dehydration and seek medical attention, especially in children and those with compromised immune systems.
10. Arm yourself with information
Call the resort/hotel where you are staying. Don’t be shy, ask them questions about their water. You won’t be the first to do so. Visit the Center for Disease Control’s website to educate yourself on traveling internationally and the risks associated with drinking the water.