Emergency Preparedness


Emergency Preparedness

The BID supports emergency preparedness and manages comprehensive public–private partnerships, including assisting property owners with developing emergency operations plans, employee preparedness and continuity of operations planning. We also develop and coordinate drills, provide training, and facilitate tabletop exercises to create a safer downtown experience.

Guidance for specific hazards

In the unlikely event of an emergency, follow the directions given by your building security or other public safety officials. However, it is always best to be prepared, and the following list of general protocols can be used for a number of potential emergency situations.  For more information on what to do before, during and after emergencies visit www.ready.gov/be-informed.

Medical Emergencies

Your building may have specific procedures for contacting emergency services. Know how to:

  • Call 9-1-1 and alert building security or other designated officials.
  • Locate first aid supplies and the automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Identify who is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
  • Provide emergency contact information to first responders.

Power Outage or Blackout

  • If possible, remain at your workplace. Do not leave unless you have a way to get home.
  • Follow guidance from supervisors for information on office closures.
  • If traffic lights, trains, and other transit systems are without power, expect extended delays.

Severe Weather – Snow

  • Check the National Weather Service for storm advisories, watches, and warnings.
  • Only drive if necessary. Allow for extra time, and make sure you have a full tank of gas.
  • Keep blankets, a shovel, and emergency supplies in your car in case you become stranded.

Severe Weather – Hurricane

  • Check the National Weather Service for storm advisories, watches, and warnings.
  • Before you leave your office, take the items you will need to telework.
  • Follow evacuation orders that are issued and do not return to the affected area until advised that it is safe to do so.

Severe Weather – Tornado

  • Take shelter immediately.
  • Move to an interior room away from windows.
  • If you are driving, do not attempt to outrun the tornado.  Pull over and seek shelter. 
  • If you are outside and unable to take shelter inside a structure, lay down in a ditch or low area.


If you are inside:

  • Drop to the floor.
  • Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture.
  • Hold on until the shaking stops.

If you are outside:

  • Stay outside and away from buildings or structures that could collapse or generate falling debris.
  • Do not re-enter the building until advised to.

Bomb Threat (via telephone)

  • Write down exact wording of threat.
  • If available, follow the directions on your “bomb threat” reference card.
  • Immediately notify building security.
  • Follow instructions from building management and/or security.

Workplace Violence

If there is an active shooter:

  • Evacuate the building, leave your belongings, and keep hands visible.
  • Otherwise, hide out of view and block entry to your hiding place.
  • Take action as a last resort to attempt to incapacitate the shooter.

Chemical Release Outside

  • Take shelter inside immediately (many chemicals are colorless and odorless).
  • If you were directly exposed to chemicals, remove and discard clothing.
  • Remain sheltered until additional information is available.
  • Follow guidance from officials on seeking medical treatment. If you do not believe you have been exposed, let first responders treat the critically injured first.

Nuclear or Radiological

  • Remember these three factors: time, distance, and shielding.
  • Try to decrease the time you are exposed to radiation, increase your distance from the contaminated area, and increase the shielding between yourself and any radiation.
  • Attempt to cover your body and exposed skin with any available materials.
  • Take shelter in an interior room immediately.
  • Discard contaminated clothing and shower as soon as possible.
Build a Kit

During an emergency, you will need to have a kit ready. It should have basic supplies that will help you survive for 72 hours.  You should consider including the following basic supplies in your kit:

Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (three-day supply of non-perishable food)
  • Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cell phone charger
  • First Aid kit
  • Walking shoes
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Filtered dust mask
  • Moist towelettes and other personal hygiene items
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Daily prescription medications and/or prescription eye glasses
  • Infant formula or diapers (if needed)
  • Important documents (copies of insurance policy, identification, proof of address, financial records, list of medications, and emergency contact information)

Make a Plan

Plan in advance what you will do in an emergency because your family may not be together, you may be at work or away from home.  Know alternate ways to communicate, get home and where to meet if your normal routine is interrupted.

Be informed

Understand the hazards in the DC area and know what action to take during an emergency.  Learn the best ways to get information and be sure to have items such as a battery powered radio.

Important Information Resources in DC

Police and Fire


DC City Services


Miss Utility (digging)


American Red Cross, National Capital Chapter


DC Animal Control


DC Department of Health


DC Homeland Security and Emergency Mgmt. Agency


DC Water and Sewer Authority (Emergency)


DC BID Homeless Service Team


Mental Health HelpLine


PEPCO Life Threatening Emergencies


PEPCO Outage Reporting


Poison Control Center


Homeland Security Investigations Tips Line


The Mayor’s Citywide Call Center


Metropolitan Police Department Crime Solvers


OPM Federal Government Operating Status


Shelter Hotline (Homeless)


Washington Gas (Emergency)


West Nile Virus Call Center


Get Involved

After preparing yourself and your family for possible emergencies, take the next step and get involved in preparing your community.

More Information
  • For more information about all types of emergencies, visit www.ready.gov
  • The District of Columbia Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management offers guidance on emergency preparedness and evacuation route maps depicting every route in the city on its web site, www.72hours.dc.gov
  • For updated preparedness information from the DowntownDC Business Improvement District visit: https://downtowndc.org/preparedness.  The DowntownDC BID is a private non-profit organization that provides capital improvements, resources and research to help diversify the economy and enhance the Downtown experience for all.