Earthquake

When the ground begins to shake...

The most important action to remember in an earthquake is to Drop, Cover and Hold in a safe place.

  • Drop to the ground somewhere close to you, no more than a few steps or less than three metres away, to avoid injury from flying debris.
  • Cover yourself under a strong table or next to an interior wall, away from windows that can shatter and cause injury and tall furniture that can fall on you.
  • Hold on to the table legs to keep it from moving away from you. Protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • Keep in mind that in modern homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that can swing and injure you.

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.
  • Secure heavy items of furniture to the floor or wall.
  • Identify safe places within your home, school or workplace.
  • 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.
  • Visit www.eqc.govt.nz to find out how to quake-safe your home.

Drop, cover and hold

During an earthquake

An earthquake can strike anywhere at any time and you may find yourself in many different situations.

  •  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 radio - 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.