Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family During Emergencies

Before an emergency happens, the best way to be prepared is to make an emergency action plan in advance.  If you are caught in a sudden water emergency, it is important that you to take steps to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property.

To report a water emergency, such as a water main break or a sewer backup, contact DC Water at 202-612-3400 or report an emergency with our online system.

For local information about a water emergency, or an emergency that may affect your water supply, visit the official emergency information page on your local government's website:

Water advisories

Contact DC Water at 202-612-3400 for information about the type of emergency and what to do. You should also pay attention to local media and emergency responders for information about the situation.  Specific instructions will be issued for each type of emergency.

  • If a boil water advisory has been issued, refer to these instructions on how to make your water safe to drink.
  • If a do not drink advisory is issued, avoid drinking from the tap until DC Water announces that the water is safe again.
  • If a do not use advisory has been issued, do not use tap water for any purpose until DC Water announces that the water is safe again.


  • Shut off water, gas, and electricity. Contact your landlord, superintendent, local power and gas company, and DC Water (202-612-3400) if you need instructions.
  • Drain all pipes and water storage tanks. Flush toilets and drain them.
  • Take bottled water with you. Each person will need a gallon of water each day.
  • Have a plan to evacuate any pets safely, and make sure they have enough water and food.

Major storms and floods

  • Flush out house water lines to make sure the water is safe and clean. Contact DC Water at 202-612-3400 for instructions.
  • Check utility lines and report any damage to your local power company.
  • Avoid using any food or water that has come in contact with untreated water or sewage.
  • Check sewage lines to see that they're intact before flushing toilets. Contact DC Water at 202-612-3400 for instructions on how to do this.