Civil Defence emergencies

Know how to handle Civil Defence Emergencies; create a personal response plan. The inside cover of the Yellow Pages has a handy reference guide. The local warning signal for civil defence emergencies is a continuous siren, like that on a police car. If you hear this, you should listen to your local radio station to learn what the emergency is and what to do.

  • Stop, think and respond
  • Get your home response items
  • Listen to your radio
  • Use common sense
  • Ensure all family members know what to do 


If a flood is threatened in my area I should be prepared to:

  • Listen to the battery operated radio for advice and information.
  • Follow the official Civil Defence advice and instructions.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances.
  • Turn off electricity, water and gas supplies at the mains.
  • Move valuables, clothing, food, medicines and chemicals above the likely reach of the flood water.
  • Move to the nearest high ground if advised to do so.

During a flood I must:

  • Keep calm.
  • Listen to the battery operated radio for advice and information.
  • Stay as warm and dry as possible.
  • Stay where I am unless told to do otherwise.

After a flood I must:

  • Assist with the clean up.
  • Store damaged articles outside until an insurance assessor has seen them. 


Find out how to prepare before, during and after an earthquake.  

Storms (Cyclones, Tornados)

In a storm I must be prepared to:

  • Secure any loose boards and roofing iron.
  • Avoid being in rooms with large windows.
  • Put strips of tape across large windows.

During a storm I must:

  • Stay indoors.
  • Shelter in the smallest parts of the building - usually the smallest rooms with small windows or in the hallway.
  • Open windows on the sheltered side of the building if the roof starts to lift.  


If a tsunami warning has occurred I should:
  • Listen to the battery operated radio for advice and information.
  • Follow the official Civil Defence advice and instructions.
  • Evacuate only if ordered to, and immediately when told.
  • Take battery operated radio, valuables and documents.
  • Turn off electricity, water and gas mains. (if there is time)
  • Go at least 1 kilometre inland or 35 metres above sea level.
WARNING: No formal warning possible for local tsunami

It is important that people understand that while formal warnings can be issued for tsunami coming from elsewhere in the Pacific, there is unlikely to be enough time to issue a formal warning if a tsunami was caused by an earthquake near the coast of New Zealand.

This is true all around the world. If a local undersea earthquake caused a tsunami, the tsunami could arrive within minutes. No warning system anywhere in the world can react that quickly.

Heed natural warnings

People should know and heed natural warnings. If you are at the coast and you:

  • feel a strong earthquake (it is hard to stand up)
  • feel a weak earthquake that lasts for a minute or more
  • see strange sea behaviour, such as the sea level suddenly rising or falling
  • hear the sea making loud or unusual noise, or roaring like a jet engine

then get to high ground or go inland. Do not wait for an official warning.

After a tsunami I must:
  • Listen to the battery operated radio for advice and information.
  • Not walk through the damaged area until allowed by the authorities.
For more information on tsunamis

Read the tsunami information sheet  "Tsunami sources for the Nelson Tasman region"

Volcanic Eruption

Stay inside unless otherwise advised or building is in immediate danger. 

Chemical Spillage

During a chemical spillage alert I must:

  • Close all windows and remain inside.
  • Listen to the battery operated radio for advice and information.
  • Advise emergency services immediately any effects are noticed inside (e.g. irritation to the eyes, nausea).
  • Block doors, windows with any available material - tape, blankets.
  • Evacuate immediately if advised to do so, following the exact route given.
  • Turn off electricity, water and gas supplies at mains if required to evacuate. 

Prepared for a pandemic?

Check out the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and the Ministry of Health websites to find out how to be prepared for civil emergencies.

Disaster preparedness for people with disabilities

Bay of Plenty Emergency Management created a brochure for people with a disability to help them prepare for emergencies such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism. The information can also apply to the elderly and other special needs populations.

Download, print, and post the plan where everyone will see it, keep a copy with you and make sure everyone involved in your plan has a copy.

Download the Bay of Plenty's guide to disaster preparedness for people with disabilities.