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How do I keep water safe to reduce the risk of water borne bacteria?

Water hygiene. Water safety advice for tenants and independent living scheme residents. Legionnaires Disease.

We know that a clean water supply is vital to your health and wellbeing.  This information is to help you prevent problems happening and to stay safe and well. 

Most water systems contain bacteria and other organisms.  If these are allowed to multiply they can cause people to become ill.  The most common and high risk bacteria are Legionella.

What is Legionella?

Legionella, or Legionnaires’ disease, are a bacteria found naturally in water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs. They can survive under many environmental conditions and temperatures between 20°C and 45°C encourage their growth.

Legionnaire’s disease can be contracted by breathing in bacteria, either in tiny droplets of water produced by showers or in the droplet particles left after water has evaporated. If the Legionella bacteria are breathed into the lungs this can cause chest infections, in the elderly or very young this can prove fatal.

Where do you find Legionella bacteria?

  • Legionella bacteria can breed in other places where water is stored, such as water systems and water-cooling towers.
  • The bacteria are more likely to grow where there is sediment, sludge, scale or other materials in the system.

If you follow these simple procedures, it will drastically reduce the risk from Legionella bacteria in your home.

  • Store the hot water at between 50°C and 60°C.
  • If your home is empty for over a week, for example when you have been on holiday, you should turn on your water heater and, when up to temperature, run the hot water for 10 minutes. This will turn over the water in the storage tank.
  • Clean any shower heads and hoses every three months.
  • Avoid stagnation within the water systems. Open garden hose taps every week and make sure you use all taps every week for at least two

I live in an independent living scheme - Am I at risk from the Legionella bacteria?

The risk while living in one of our schemes is low. This is because we manage and monitor our water systems on a monthly basis. The water is stored above 45°C which will not allow legionella bacteria to grow, and, the water is used daily, which does not give time for the bacteria to grow to significant levels.

Risk can increase if your property is empty for long periods of time, when you go on holiday, stay with family or are in hospital for over a week.

What can I do to prevent Legionella outbreaks?

If you follow this simple advice, it will drastically reduce the risk from Legionella bacteria in your apartment.

  • If you are to be away from your home you should always tell your scheme manager or community support worker.
  • If you are away for over a week, you should run hot water from each hot water tap for two minutes on your return.
  • If you have your own hot water boiler make sure the thermostat is set between 50°C and 60°C. If you have been away from home for over a week and you have a shower in your bathroom, you should remove the shower head when you get back and place it in hot water for ten minutes (if you are unable to do this yourself, you can ask for help from your scheme manager or community support worker).
    It is important you do not use the shower without removing and cleaning it first.
  • Shower heads and hoses should be removed and cleaned every three months.

If you have any concerns please contact OneCALL 0345 8 507 507.


Garden safety ; Legionella ; Legionnaires Disease