Preparing your family for an emergency 

What do I need to have in our home to be prepared for an emergency?

You should have essential items which need to be readily available in case disaster strikes, for example:

  • a store of clean drinkable water, in case the disaster affects your household water supply
  • a wind-up radio (or one which can run on batteries, plus a supply of batteries), so that you can listen out for radio broadcasts of civil defence information
  • first aid equipment in case someone is injured.
  • non-perishable food e.g. dried or canned
  • a camp cooker  e.g. primus or gas barbeque
  • toilet paper
  • enough food and basic sanitary items for your family for at least three days
  • try to have an emergency stock of any medicines you will need, such as insulin  
  • any special items which individual family members may need, such as formula and nappies for the baby    
  • important documents e.g. passports, driver licences, insurance policies.

It’s a good idea for each member of your family to have their own emergency kit, containing their essentials. These should contain any emergency items and medicine you might need if you have to be evacuated. You could also have a back-up emergency kit somewhere other than your home, for example at your workplace.

If you have a car, it’s worth thinking about putting together an emergency kit for the car, in case you are stranded in a flood or snow storm, for example.

You can download a household emergency checklist and plan to help you plan what you will do in the event of a disaster, e.g. where you will meet up during and after a disaster, how you will ensure that your pets are safe.  

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How can we quake-safe our home?

It is recommended that you secure items in your house to prevent them falling over in an earthquake. You’ll want to secure both smaller items (like ornaments and picture frames) and larger items (such as bookshelves, televisions and water cylinders). The Earthquake Commission has some videos on their website which show you how to do this, as well as a booklet which is available in a number of languages.

You should also think about whether you have adequate insurance cover to help you replace possessions destroyed by the disaster. While you would be able to make a claim to the Earthquake Commission (EC) for damage to your house caused by an earthquake, it is worth checking whether your house insurance includes additional cover for disasters.

More information about house insurance is on our House & contents insurance page. If you would like to know more about the Earthquake Commission’s insurance scheme check out their website.  

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We rent our home – can our landlord refuse to let us fix our bookcases to the walls?

Unless your tenancy agreement specifies that you may fix things to the premises, then you have to obtain permission from your landlord to do so. You can trying referring the landlord to the Earthquake Commission’s recommendations to support your request.

Your landlord can’t unreasonably refuse your request. If you and your landlord are unable to come to an agreement about the issue, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision.

At the end of your tenancy, you will be obliged to remove any fixtures that you have installed during your tenancy and may be required to repair any damage resulting from the installation or removal of the fixtures.

You can find out more about your rights and obligations as a tenant, on our Residential Tenancy pages. 

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Where can I find out more about being prepared for a natural disaster?

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management has a wealth of information to help you prepare for a natural disaster, on their Get Thru website, covering earthquakes, storms, flooding, tsunami, volcanic eruptions and landslides.

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Who looks after civil defence in my community?

Your local council manages civil defence in your area. This includes providing welfare to people who have been displaced as a result of a natural disaster, distributing emergency information and promoting preparedness within the community. If you are interested in volunteering with your local civil defence group just contact your local council.