You can feel helpless watching the toilet bowl overflow, but you can stop it quickly. Reach for the water cutoff valve (usually behind or slightly off center of the toilet near the floor) and turn it off (righty-tighty).This will immediately stop water from refilling into the tank, which in turn goes into the bowl. If it's not overflowing but slowly rising, you can reach into the tank and lift the ballcock (float) to horizontal, which will stop the valve from allowing more water into the tank. This will give the bowl time to drain.
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