Earthquake preparedness

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Earthquake – are you prepared?

Take these simple steps to reduce danger to you and your family when an earthquake occurs.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and GNS Science all agree, when an earthquake starts, the best advice is to drop, cover and hold.

What to do before an earthquake

  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan and prepare an Emergency Survival Kit so that you can cope with being on your own for up to three days or more
    Find out more about developing a household plan.
  • Identify safe places very close to you at home, school or workplace, such as under a sturdy table, or next to an interior wall.
  • Protect property – secure objects and your homes and keep insurance up to date.
  • Check your household insurance policy for cover and amount
  • Seek qualified advice to make sure your house is secured to its foundations. Also check that any renovations comply with the NZ Building Code
  • Secure heavy items of furniture to the floor or wall.

What to do during an earthquake

The drill practised by schoolchildren will protect people in most earthquakes: drop, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on. Alternately, take shelter against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases etc. But your chosen safe place should be within a few steps – no more than two metres – to avoid injury from flying debris.

  • Move no more than a few steps to safe place, drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Do not attempt to run outside.
  • If in a lift, stop at the nearest floor and get out.
  • If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road. Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops.

What to do after an earthquake

  • Expect aftershocks.
  • Help those around you if you can.
  • If you are in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place.
  • Report injuries or fires to the emergency services (dial 111).
  • If you smell gas, try and turn off the gas main outside the building if it is safe to do so.
  • Put out small fires. Evacuate the building if the fires cannot be controlled.
  • If you see sparks, broken wires or evidence of electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if it is safe to do so.
  • If your property is damaged, take notes or photos for the loss adjustor.
  • Do not go sightseeing and stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Listen to the radio for advice and information.

The information provided above is the agreed New Zealand advice about what to do during an earthquake and is based on international best practice.