In an emergency, such as an earthquake, communication networks are likely to fail and prevent you from connecting with your loved ones. It is possible that many of your most important assets (property, car, furniture etc) could be damaged or destroyed. Having a basic plan in place will keep you safer, let you connect with your loved ones faster and protect some of your most important assets.
Eight steps to include in your household plan:
1. Collecting children from school
Where should you collect your children?
You should know your school's emergency plan and the location you need to collect your children.
If the school is in a tsunami zone, don't rush to the school to pick up your child after an earthquake. Speak to your school now to understand their evacuation plan.
Check your school or ECE's wesbite for their emergency plan.
Who will collect your children?
Arrange at least three friends or family members within walking distance of the school to collect your children for you, in case you can't get to them. Give their names to your school.
Talk with your children about what they could expect and who could collect them if you can’t get there.
2. Agree on a safe meeting place
Start by having a conversation with your household and decide on a place to meet.
Agree where you would go if you couldn't go home or to your meeting place.
If you work or go to school in different places, consider how you will reconnect with each other.
Identify friends or family that you could stay with if you couldn't go home.
3. Sort out home and contents insurance
Most people are under-insured for their home and contents. After the Christchurch earthquake, insurers in New Zealand moved from a full replacement model to a sum-insured model.
Make sure that your home and your possessions are insured for the right amount. Contact your insurer to discuss this.
4. Put together an emergency grab bag for home and work
You might have to leave home in a hurry and be unable to return, or walk a long distance to get home from work. Think about what items you will need, then put together a grab bag. You can do this yourself and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
You need to be able to grab a bag with basic essentials to get you through the next few hours or days. A pair of walking shoes, jacket, water, and snacks are a good start.
Find your gas main valve (if you have gas), main power switch, water toby, and learn how to turn them off.
Mark them clearly so you can find them quickly and tell others in your household what to do. Damaged utilities (gas, electric and water) can be dangerous and prevent you from staying in your home. For example, having a fire extinguisher in your household could help prevent small fires from becoming a big fire.
Your neighbours are your first and best source of support in an emergency. If you haven't already connected with people on your street, swapping contact details in case of an emergency is a good conversation starter.
7. Know the location of your nearest Community Emergency Hub
After you have checked on your household and neighbours, you can go to your local Community Emergency Hub. This is a place where people in your neighbourhood can support each other and work out what to do next.
Fill out a template Emergency Plan on the National Emergency Management Agency's Get Ready website. Fill in the form then print it out, stick it on the fridge and make sure everyone knows the plan. Alternatively, save it as a PDF and email it to your whānau/flatmates/friends.