What Flint Residents Need to Know About the Water Crisis
If you’re a Flint resident, you very likely have a lot of questions about the ongoing water crisis and what resources are available to help you. The Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka completely understand your frustration and outrage over the situation and we want to help by answering some of the most important questions you need answers to.
Where Can Flint Residents Get Free Bottled Water and Water Filters?
Free bottled water, water testing kits, water filters, and filter replacements are available daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM daily at Fire Station No. 1 (310 E. Fifth), Fire Station No. 3 (1525 Martin Luther King Ave.), Fire Station No. 5 (3402 Western Road), Fire Station No. 6 (716 W. Pierson Road), and Fire Station No. 8 (202 E. Atherton Road). Water filters and filter replacements can also be picked up at no charge Mondays-Fridays from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM at the Michigan Department of Human Services (125 E. Union or 4809 Clio), the Genesee County Action Resource Department (2727 Lippincott or 601 N. Saginaw), and Flint City Hall (101 Saginaw, Suite No. 310).
If you are housebound and unable to come to any of these sites to pick up bottled water, water filters, or filter replacements, call 2-1-1 to reach the United Way’s 24-hour helpline and they will make arrangements for someone to deliver them to you. If you need help installing a water filter, they will also be able to help you with that. To have a recycling bin delivered to your home, call 1-800-438-0966.
Is it Ever Safe to Use Unfiltered Tap Water at Home?
As a rule of thumb, if you’re planning to drink the water or use it for some other purpose where the water comes into contact with food, such as for cooking or rinsing off fruits or vegetables, use bottled or filtered water. If there’s a chance that you could potentially ingest some of the water, like if you’re brushing your teeth, play it safe and use filtered or bottled water. Formula-fed infants should not be given formula that has been made with unfiltered tap water. Don’t forget your pets! They need filtered or bottled water, too.
Unfiltered tap water is safe to use for cleaning purposes like washing your dishes, mopping floors, and doing laundry. If you’re going use use unfiltered tap water for washing dishes or wiping down countertops, be sure to dry them off before allowing food to come into contact with them. You can also use unfiltered water for short showers and baths, but be careful to not let the water get into your mouth. When giving a child a bath, don’t allow them to play around in the water.
If you’re going to use unfiltered water, let the water run for at least five minutes before you use it. Remember to drain and flush your water heater on a regular basis to prevent lead from building up inside.
Where Can My Child Be Tested for Lead?
All children who live in the city of Flint, goes to school or daycare in Flint, or spends time with a babysitter who lives in Flint should have their blood tested for lead. Children under the age of 6 are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning since their systems aren’t fully developed yet. You child can be tested for lead by their pediatrician or your family’s physician. The Genesee County Health Department is also offering lead testing. Call 810-257-3833 for more information about lead testing at the Genesee County Health Department.
Remember that lead testing will not show extended past exposure to lead. Blood lead levels decrease after 20-30 days, so even if a blood lead test comes back fine, it doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t exposed to it in the past.
Nursing mothers should also have their blood tested for lead to make sure lead in their system isn’t being transferred to their child.
Do I Have to Pay My Water Bills?
Although it is ethically wrong that Flint residents should have to pay for contaminated water that poisoned so many people, the city of Flint is still asking that people to pay their water bills if they are able to since water bills also include sewer-related services. Governor Snyder’s request for $30 million from the state to reimburse Flint residents for their water bills going back to April of 2014 was recently approved, but details about how exactly they will reimburse residents are still being worked out.
If you are unable to pay your water bill, do not worry that your children may be taken away by Child Protective Services as a result. When a family is without water, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will work with the family to provide access to safe water. They will not try to remove children from their home purely because the water has been shut off.
For more important information on the Flint water crisis, the Detroit Free Press has compiled an excellent Flint Water Crisis Resource Guide. They have answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding this ordeal, information about where low-income residents can get assistance with buying nutritious food, and so much more. If you still have questions, the United Way’s 24-hour helpline can be reached by calling 2-1-1.