What to do in an earthquake
As we're all aware, New Zealand is no stranger to earthquakes. While we can't prevent them, we can prepare. Read on to find out what you should do before, during, and after an earthquake strikes.
As we're all aware, New Zealand is no stranger to earthquakes. These natural disasters can cause all sorts of injuries as a result of falling debris, broken glass, and collapsed buildings, and, as if that wasn’t enough, earthquakes can also trigger fires, landslides, avalanches, flash floods, and tsunamis.
That's why it's so important we know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. Here are some tips to get you started.
Before an earthquake
- Work out an emergency plan. EQC provides helpful templates that you can use to make a plan with your work, and get your household ready.
- This includes putting together a basic emergency survival kit that can help you survive a couple of days with no home (or at home with no power and water). Plus, you should also work out where you’ll meet after an earthquake to make sure that you’re all safe. Take a look at Tower's handy list to help you get your kit or bag ready.
- Make sure to practice Drop, Cover, and Hold at least twice a year. Joining in on the New Zealand ShakeOut is a great time for this.
- Make a note of all the safe places you can find in your home, school, or workplace, such as a sturdy desk or table. Unless you live in an older house, don't use your doorways, as they’re not built as strongly as they used to be.
- Secure tall and heavy furniture and whiteware to the floor or wall using brackets or seismic restraint straps so they won’t move around in a quake. Here is some great advice from EQC on the best way to secure these items.
During an earthquake
- If you feel an earthquake starting, don’t wait for it to get worse. Drop. Cover. Hold.
- If you can, make your way to a sturdy desk or table and drop down onto your hands and knees, covering your head and neck. This position protects you from falling over and from flying debris.
- Hold on to your shelter (or your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
- Try not to move around during a quake, as you’ve got no stable ground to walk on. Take no more than a few steps to find the nearest safe place.
- If you're inside a building, stay indoors until the shaking stops and you're sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand, it's safer to stay where you are until the shaking stops.
- If you're outdoors when the shaking starts, try to move away from any buildings, trees, street lights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover, and Hold.
- If you're at the beach, Drop, Cover, and Hold, then move to higher ground in case a tsunami follows the quake.
- If you're driving, pull over and wait until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, be mindful to avoid bridges or roads that might have been damaged.
- As soon as the shaking stops, remember, Long or Strong, Get Gone, and move to higher ground.
After an earthquake
- You should check yourself for any injuries, then see if anyone else needs help.
- If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. If it's safe to do so, turn off the gas.
- If you see sparks or downed power lines, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box.
- Be patient, as the power may be off for a while. Fire alarms and/or sprinkler systems can also go off in buildings, even if there is no fire.
- There will be aftershocks, so if you feel one, Drop, Cover, and Hold.
- Let people know you're okay via social media or by sending a text message, but try to limit your phone use to keep the lines clear for emergency calls. Listen to your local radio stations for reports from Civil Defence on what to do next.
- If it's safe to do so, check on your neighbours and give support to anyone who may need help. Keep an eye on your pets or livestock, as they may be anxious and can hurt themselves or others after a serious quake.
- If your home 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.
- If you need to make a claim, Tower has provided a guide on what to expect when you make a house insurance claim following a natural disaster.