More than 150,000 residents outside of Washington, D.C., have been told to stockpile water for as long as five days during the hottest week of the year as crews repair a failing water main.
The 54-inch water main that supplies a section of Prince George's County in Maryland was taken offline late Tuesday night because wires inside the water main are starting to break down and are in desperate need of repairs. Water in the system should last another 14 hours after the water main is taken offline but County Executive Rushern Baker said people should prepare for taps to run dry later today.
"When everybody wakes up and takes a shower, we're going to run out of water pretty fast…" he said.
In addition to three dozen cooling centers, county officials said they will open at least two "reception centers" today and deploy tanker trucks to provide water. Amid a heat wave, residents are left finding creative ways to conserve what little water they have acquired by filing recycling cans, portable pools and anything else that can carry water safely.
Resident Tominetta Stamp spent the Tuesday filling her recycling bins with a garden hose.
"We usually use this for swimming, however we going to have to use it for flushing our toilets," Stamp said.
Residents were already feeling the effects of the damaged water main hours before it was shut down as water pressure dwindled.
"Ten minutes ago it was coming out more than this, and to be honest, it doesn't smell very good," Stamp said.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Spokesperson Lyn Riggins suggests families with children should especially stockpile bottled water.
"Have about two gallons on hand in your house, per person, to get you through," Riggins suggested.
But bottled water is becoming scarce in Prince George's County.
"A lot of stores are running out of water. I don't know how long the water I got is going to last me," Prince George's County resident Keesha Seth said.
Nearly a quarter of the country is experiencing a heat wave and temperatures across the country are on average 10 degrees hotter than normal. A heat wave coupled with humidity made even more dangerous by the fact that scorching temperatures are not dropping much overnight. It's expected to hit 96 degrees today in Washington, D.C., but it will feel like 105 to 110 degrees with the humidity.
The water outage in Prince George's County extends to Joint Base Andrews, the military base home to Air Force One. Col. Bill Knight encouraged those residents on base to make believe they're tourists.
"While this affects a lot of people in our area, there's a lot of Washington, D.C., that is not affected and we encourage you to get out and go see some of the great things that are in our nation's capital," Knight suggested.
Fort Washington, Md., resident Daphne Burnett spent part of Tuesday filling water buckets to get her family though the outage.
"We won't be able to wash clothes, but for showers I told the kids that we'll have to visit someone who has water," she said.
Prince George's County council member Obie Patterson is hoping more neighbors follow Burnett's lead.
"This is serious. Don't be reluctant to call on your neighbors and friends to make sure you have a backup plan," Patterson warned.
ABC News Radio contributed to this report.