What to do in a sudden onset emergency

Fire


If your smoke detector goes off, you smell smoke or you see a fire in the building, take the following steps:

  • Remain calm and get out.
  • Drop to the floor to avoid smoke and fumes. Crawl to safety.
  • If you see smoke under the door, find another way out.
  • Feel the door with the back of your hand before you open it. If it is hot, find another way out.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, STOP where you are, DROP to the ground, and ROLL over and over to smother the flames.
  • Call 1-1-1 from a safe location.
  • If you are trapped in a burning building, stay near a window and close to the floor.
  • If possible, signal for help. 

Severe Weather


Major storms affect wide areas and can be accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain or snowfall, thunder, lightning, tornadoes and rough seas. They can cause damage to property and infrastructure, affect crops and livestock, disrupt essential services, and cause coastal inundation.

Severe Weather Watches and Warnings are issued by the MetService and available through the broadcast media, by email alerts, and at Metservice .

Before a storm

  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan . Assemble and maintain your Emergency Survival Items for your home as well as a portable getaway kit.
  • Prepare your property for high winds. Secure large heavy objects or remove any item which can become a deadly or damaging missile. Get your roof checked regularly to make sure it is secure. List items that may need to be secured or moved indoors when strong winds are forecast.
  • Keep materials at hand for repairing windows, such as tarpaulins, boards and duct tape.
  • If you are renovating or building, make sure all work complies with the New Zealand building code which has specific standards to minimise storm damage.
  • If farming, know which paddocks are safe to move livestock away from floodwaters, landslides and power lines.

When a warning is issued and during a storm

  • Stay informed on weather updates. Listen to your local radio stations as civil defence authorities will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • Put your household emergency plan into action and check your getaway kit in case you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Secure, or move indoors, all items that could get blown about and cause harm in strong winds.
  • Close windows, external and internal doors. Pull curtains and drapes over unprotected glass areas to prevent injury from shattered or flying glass.
  • If the wind becomes destructive, stay away from doors and windows and shelter further inside the house.

Water supplies can be affected so it is a good idea to store drinking water in containers and fill bathtubs and sinks with water.
Don't walk around outside and avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.
Power cuts are possible in severe weather. Unplug small appliances which may be affected by electrical power surges. If power is lost unplug major appliances to reduce the power surge and possible damage when power is restored.

Bring pets inside. Move stock to shelter. If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes sometimes occur during thunderstorms in some parts of New Zealand. A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air extending downwards to the ground from the base of a thunderstorm. Warning signs include a long, continuous roar or rumble or a fast approaching cloud of debris which can sometimes be funnel shaped.

  • Alert others if you can.
  • Take shelter immediately. A basement offers the greatest safety. If underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room without windows on the lowest floor. Get under sturdy furniture and cover yourself with a mattress or blanket.
  • If caught outside, get away from trees if you can. Lie down flat in a nearby gully, ditch or low spot and protect your head.
  • If in a car, get out immediately and look for a safe place to shelter. Do not try to outrun a tornado or get under the vehicle for shelter.

After a storm

  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • Check for injuries and help others if you can, especially people who require special assistance.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
  • Contact your local council if your house or building has been severely damaged.
  • If your property or contents are damaged take notes and photographs and contact your insurance company. Inform your landlord if there is damage to the rental property.
  • Ask your council for advice on how to clean up debris safely.

Snowstorms

Although the Bay of Plenty is not normally subject to Snowstorms, snowfall is possible on high ground such as the Kaimai ranges and also in our neighboring Regions. It is therefore essential to know what to do if you are traveling in areas which have been, or are likely to be affected.

  • Avoid traveling in these areas unless absolutely necessary when a snow warning is issued.
  • If you have to travel make sure you are well prepared with snow chains, sleeping bags, warm clothing and essential emergency items.
  • If you are caught in your car or truck in a snowstorm, stay in your vehicle. Run the engine every ten minutes to keep warm. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Open the window a little to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make yourself visible to rescuers by tying a bright-coloured cloth to your radio aerial or door and keeping the inside light on.
  • For information and advice on safer winter driving, please visit the NZ Transport Agency.

Flood


Floods are New Zealand’s number one hazard in terms of frequency, losses and declared civil defence emergencies. Floods can cause injury and loss of life, damage to property and infrastructure, loss of stock, and contamination of water and land.

Floods are usually caused by continuous heavy rain or thunderstorms but can also result from tsunami and coastal storm inundation. A flood becomes dangerous if:

  • The water is very deep or travelling very fast.
  • The floods have risen very quickly.
  • The floodwater contains debris, such as trees and sheets of corrugated iron.

Getting ready before a flood strikes will help reduce damage to your home and business and help you survive.

Before a flood

  • Find out from your local council if your home or business is at risk from flooding. Ask about evacuation plans and local public alerting systems; how you can reduce the risk of future flooding to your home or business; and what to do with your pets and livestock if you have to evacuate.
  • Know where the closest high ground is and how to get there.
  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan . Assemble and maintain your Emergency Survival Items for your home as well as a portable getaway kit.
  • Check your insurance policy to ensure you have sufficient cover.

During a flood or if a flood is imminent

  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • If you have a disability or need support, make contact with your support network.
  • Put your household emergency plan into action and check your getaway kit. Be prepared to evacuate quickly if it becomes necessary.
  • Where possible, move pets inside or to a safe place, and move stock to higher ground.
  • Consider using sandbags to keep water away from your home.
  • Lift valuable household items and chemicals as high above the floor as possible.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and storage containers with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities as it can help prevent damage to your home or community. Unplug small appliances to avoid damage from power surges.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk through floodwaters unless it is absolutely essential.

After a flood

  • It may not be safe to return home even when the floodwaters have receded. Continue to listen to your local radio station for civil defence instructions.
  • Help others if you can, especially people who may require special assistance.
  • Throw away food including canned goods and water that has been contaminated by floodwater.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. If in doubt, check with your local council or public health authority.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.

If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

Tsunami


In the case of an impending tsunami, warning messages and signals can come from several sources – natural, official or unofficial.

Natural warnings
Natural warning signals may be the only warnings possible for local or regional source tsunami.

Examples of natural warnings include:

    • Strong earthquake shaking (i.e. it is hard to stand up).
    • Weak, rolling earthquake shaking of unusually long duration (i.e. a minute or more)
    • Out of ordinary sea behaviour, such as unusual and sudden sea level fall or rise.
  • The sea making loud and unusual noises, especially roaring like a jet engine.

When experiencing any of the above go immediately to high ground or, if the surrounding area is flat, go as far inland as possible, evacuating all coastal areas or, where present, all evacuation zones. The first wave may arrive within minutes. Once away from the water, listen to a local radio or television station for information from local civil defence about further action you should take.

Even if you do not feel shaking, if you learn that an area has experienced a large earthquake that could send a tsunami in your direction, listen to a local radio or television station for information from the local civil defence about action you should take. Depending on the location of the earthquake, you may have a number of hours in which to take appropriate action.

Official warnings
An official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management may be given through radio or television broadcasts and emergency services. Warning may also be through siren, telephone, text, loud hailer or other local arrangements. You may receive warnings from one, or several sources. Respond to the first source; do not wait for more messages before you act.

Landslide


Landslides are a serious geological hazard throughout much of New Zealand. A landslide is the movement of rock, soil and vegetation down a slope. Landslides can range in size from a single boulder in a rock fall to a very large avalanche of debris with huge quantities of rock and soil that can be spread across many kilometres.

Heavy rain, floods or earthquake shaking can cause a landslide. Human activity, such as removal of trees and vegetation, steep roadside cuttings or leaking water pipes can also cause landslides. Most landslides occur without public warning and it’s important to recognise the warning signs and act quickly

Before a landslide
Getting ready before a landslide will help reduce damage to your home and business and help you survive. Find out from your council if there have been landslides in your area before and where they might occur again. Be alert when driving especially where there are embankments along roadsides. Watch the road for collapsed pavements, mud and fallen rocks.

Check for signs that the ground may be moving. These signs include: Sticking doors and window frames Gaps where frames are not fitting properly

    • Decks and verandahs moving or tilting away from the rest of the house
    • New cracks or bulges on the ground, road or footpath
    • Leaning trees, retaining walls or fences
  • Water springs, seeps or waterlogged ground in areas that are not usually wet

If you think a landslide is about to happen
Act quickly. Getting out of the path of a landslide is your best protection. Evacuate and take your Getaway Kit with you. Take your pets with you and move livestock to safe paddocks if you can safely do so. Warn neighbours who might be affected and help those who may need assistance to evacuate. Contact emergency services and your local council to inform them of the hazard.

After a landslide
Keep in mind that further landslides may occur. Stay away from affected sites until it has been properly inspected and authorities give the all-clear.
Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
If your property or contents are damaged take notes and photographs when it is safe to do so. Contact your insurance company and inform your landlord if there is damage to the rental property.

Eruption


GeoNet continuously monitors New Zealand's active volcanoes. The overall activity for each volcano is quantified by setting an alert level from 0 to 5. Response agencies in New Zealand are notified whenever the alert level changes, and they use it to determine the type and scope of their responses.

During a Volcanic Eruption
Listen to a local station on a portable, battery-operated radio or television for updated emergency information and instructions. If the electricity is out, this may be your only source of information. Local officials will give appropriate advice for your particular situation via local media.
Follow any evacuation orders issued by authorities, and put your Household Emergency Plan into action. Although it may seem safe to stay at home and wait-out an eruption, doing so could be very dangerous if you are in a hazard zone. The best way to stay safe is to take the advice of local authorities.
Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters to protect them from breathing volcanic ash.
Put all machinery inside a garage or barn to protect it from volcanic ash.
Stay indoors. Your safest place is inside, away from various hazards.
Close all windows, doors, and dampers to keep volcanic ash from entering indoors.
Stay out of designated restricted zones. Effects of a volcanic eruption can be experienced many miles from a volcano.
Avoid low-lying areas, areas downwind of the volcano, and river valleys downstream of the volcano. Debris and ash will be carried by wind and gravity.
Wear a dust mask designed to protect against lung irritation from small particles.
Protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses.
Keep as much of your skin covered as possible.

After a Volcanic Eruption
Stay indoors and away from volcanic ash fall areas if possible. The fine, glassy particles of volcanic ash can increase the health risks for children and people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.

Whether you are indoors or outdoors:

    • Wear a dust mask designed to protect against lung irritation from small particles.
    • Protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses.
    • Keep as much of your skin covered as possible.
    • When it is safe to go outside, clear roofs of ash fall. Ash is very heavy and can cause buildings to collapse, especially if made wet by rain. Exercise great caution when working on a roof.
    • Avoid driving in heavy ash fall. Driving will stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles. Abrasion can damage moving parts, including bearings, brakes, and transmissions.
  • Keep animals away from ash fall and possible hot spots. Wash animals’ paws and fur or skin to prevent them from ingesting or inhaling ash when they groom themselves.

Further Information:
For information on volcanic ash provided by GNS Science and the US Geological Survey. Click here for more information.
GNS also has a number of fact sheets specific to New Zealand (in particular Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro). Click here for more information.

Earthquake


Before an earthquake
Getting ready before an earthquake strikes will help reduce damage to your home and business and help you survive.
Develop a Household Emergency Plan. Assemble and maintain your emergency survival Items for your home and workplace, as well as a portable getaway kit.

Practice Drop , Cover and Hold . Identify safe places within your home, school or workplace.

Drop Cover Hold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check your household insurance policy for cover and amount.
Seek qualified advice to make sure your house is secured to its foundations and ensure any renovations comply with the New Zealand Building Code.
Secure heavy items of furniture to the floor or wall.

For information on how to quake-safe your home, visit the Earthquake Commision website here.

During an earthquake

  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, drop, cover and hold. Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in an elevator, drop, cover and hold. When the shaking stops, try and get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so.
  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move no more than a few steps away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold.
  • If you are at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake.
  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling debris or landslides.

After an earthquake

  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • Expect to feel aftershocks.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary. Help others if you can.
  • Be aware that electricity supply could be cut, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems can go off in buildings during an earthquake even if there is no fire. Check for, and extinguish, small fires.
  • If you are in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place. Use the stairs, not the elevators.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.
  • Only use the phone for short essential calls to keep the lines clear for emergency calls.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window, get everyone out quickly and turn off the gas if you can. 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.
  • Keep your animals under your direct control as they can become disorientated. Take measures to protect your animals from hazards, and to protect other people from your animals.
  • If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

back to top

Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group © Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

Designed by OneClick | Powered by Umbraco