Earthquake preparedness advice updated

  • Nikki Kaye
Civil Defence

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) has today published updated advice about how to prepare for earthquakes, says Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye.

“The updated advice clarifies what to do before, during and after the shaking stops, and is set out in the earthquake chapter of the reference guide that provides agreed messages for all agencies involved in civil defence emergency management,” says Ms Kaye.

“Although it’s relevant to everyone, the updated advice will be of particular interest to building owners, workplace safety wardens and staff responsible for emergency plans.

“The updated messages are based on lessons identified following recent earthquakes, as well as increased scientific knowledge in this area.

“Drop, cover and hold is reinforced as the right action to take in an earthquake. It’s also important to stay indoors until the shaking stops, and you’re sure it’s safe to exit.

“Often people’s instinctive reaction is to run from the building. However, research shows that people moving as little as three metres during an earthquake are more likely to be injured by flying furniture, fixtures or debris.

“Another important message is that a fire evacuation assembly point might not be appropriate after an earthquake, because of the risk of falling debris. So you need to have a specific assembly point for earthquakes.”

Ms Kaye says MCDEM will also be updating other chapters of the reference guide.

To view the updated advice on earthquakes, see the earthquake chapter in Working from the same page: Consistent messages for CDEM, available here.


About Working from the same page: Consistent messages for CDEM

The reference guide reflects the latest research and advice of New Zealand’s leading experts on hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, snow, tsunami, volcanoes and pandemics.

It sets out consistent messages about hazards, managing risks and what to do during an emergency, to ensure these are available to, and can be shared by, everyone involved in civil defence emergency management.

Updates to the earthquake chapter

In the section Be prepared for an earthquake: protect yourself:

  • It’s made clear that a normal fire evacuation point might not be appropriate after an earthquake
  • At work, prepare a safe, clear area outside for an assembly point.

In the section What to do after an earthquake:

  • It’s made clear that leaving the building should not be the immediate action – included is an outline of steps to take before evacuating (this can be used as the basis of a workplace earthquake plan)
  • There is new information on what to do if the fire alarms sounds after the earthquake, eg check for and extinguish small fires if possible, then check for a safe exit path.

Throughout the chapter:

  • Drop, cover and hold is reinforced as the right action to take in an earthquake.