How do I be prepared?

The New Zealand land mass is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, so being prepared for the disaster events most likely to impact your community is important. Have a survival kit and a good supply of stored water and the ability to be self-sufficient for at least three days.

Think about being able to look after your family and others in your community. Response teams will have important work to do, not preparing yourself might prove costly to you and it might put unnecessary burden on the people and agencies responding to the disaster.

Have a Survival Kit

  • Emergency water (three litres per person per day minimum).
  • No-perishable foods.
  • Battery operated radio.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Essential Medications.
  • Emergency lighting (torch and spare batteries, lightsticks).
  • Toilet paper, large bucket and plastic bags (for making an emergency toilet).
  • Blankets and warm waterproof clothing.
  • Alternative cooking methods (gas cooker, BBQ).
  • Pet and animal supplies.
  • Baby supplies.

Store Water

  • Use clean soft drink bottles, not milk bottles.
  • Fill to overflowing from the cold tap. Replace the cap.
  • Store bottles away from sunlight.
  • Change water every 12 months.
  • You need at least nine litres for every person in your household (three day's supply).
  • Store safe water at home, at work and at school. 

Have an emergency plan

  • Find out what emergencies could happen in your area.
  • Know what to do in an earthquake, flood, fire or chemical spill etc.
  • Know your neighbours and plan to support each other.
  • Where necessary, arrange with a near neighbour to look after your dependants at home. The emergency may prevent you from returning immediately.
  • Ensure that everyone knows how to safely turn off the power, gas and water.
  • Arrange authorised people to collect children from school. Give the list to the school. Schools are responsible for uncollected children in emergencies.
  • Talk to your family about what you will do and where you will meet.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place.
  • Find out where your nearest Civil Defence Centre or Community Emergency Centre is.

Be self-sufficient for at least three days

At a minimum be self-sufficient for at least three days. Being well prepared will enable you to help others.

Reduce the chances of getting hurt

How to make your home safer in the event of an emergency.

  • Install a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors.
  • Secure heavy furniture to the wall or floor.
  • Put heavy items on low shelves.
  • Secure your hot water cylinder and header tank.
  • Put strong catches on your cupboards.
  • Keep valuables and some food and clothing in higher places if you are in a flood prone area.
  • Have insurance for your building and contents.
  • Identify evacuation routes.
  • Safely store chemicals in secure containers.
  • Locate the switch off points for gas, water and electricity mains.
  • Learn first aid and keep a current certificate.
  • Practice your emergency plan. 

Managing in an Emergency

How does insurance industry respond in an emergency?

All Insurance Council New Zealand members have emergency response procedures in place that will allow them to deal with the large number of claims that would be expected from an emergency event.

The Emergency Response Procedures include the following services:

  • Special telephone Call Centres.
  • Teams of specially trained loss adjusters.
  • Technical advice from the Insurance Council

The role of the Insurance Council:

  • Gather information on the nature and severity of the emergency event, and pass it on to your insurer.
  • Provide information to you through the media.
  • Facilitate coordination between your insurance company, your local council and EQC. 

Getting Through

  • Remain calm
  • Put safety first
  • Check for danger (e.g. fires, gas leaks, damage to buildings)
  • Stay where you are unless it is unsafe, or you are officially told to leave
  • If necessary to keep safe, turn off electricity, gas or water mains
  • Be prepared to move into a safer part of your building
  • Seek help from those around you, and offer to help them too
  • Don't use the telephone except to report immediate emergencies
  • Listen to local radio stations for official warnings and advice

Evacuation

If you are officially told to evacuate, take with you:

  • Your survival kit and important documents.
  • Warm clothes and sturdy shoes.
  • Radio and torch.
  • If it is unsafe to stay where you are, arrange shelter for yourself.
  • Try to stay with neighbours, friends, or family.

No water?

First use your stored water, then your water cylinder and toilet cistern water (if no chemicals added). Boil all other water for five minutes before drinking.

No electricity?

Use your emergency lighting, heating and cooking facilities.

No sewerage?

Use a plastic bag in a bucket, or in the toilet bowl or make a temporary toilet outdoors.

No phones?

Seek assistance of neighbours. If it is safe, go to your nearest Emergency Services base.

Act safely to prevent any more damage to your building.

  • Try to make the buildings safe and weatherproof.
  • Take pictures of the damage (building and contents) for insurance claims.
  • Keep all damaged items for inspection.
  • Get essential services repaired e.g. water, electricity, gas, sewerage - keep copies of your bills.
  • Make a list of any perishables you have to dispose of.
  • Don't start non-essential repairs without the insurance company's approval. 

Recovery - where to start

  • Contact your insurer, or insurance advisor.
  • Act safely to prevent any more damage to your building.
  • Try to make the buildings safe and weatherproof.
  • Take pictures of the damage (building and contents) for insurance claims.
  • Keep all damaged items for inspection.
  • Get essential services repaired e.g. water, electricity, gas, sewerage - keep copies of your bills.
  • Make a list of any perishables you have to dispose of.
  • Don't start non-essential repairs without the insurance company's approval. 

Recovering from Flood Damage

What your insurer is likely to do to reinstate your flood damaged property.

These guidelines are generally accepted by all local authorities in respect of residential property and home contents and the NZTA in respect of flood damaged motor vehicles.

Buildings [dwellings]

Where water has entered a building, then adequate drying of internal framing is important to reduce the risk of long-term damage.

Removal of drywall linings to the first dwang above the high water mark should be undertaken. Moisture-laden and contaminated insulation should be discarded and framing dried to a moisture limit of 18% [as confirmed using a calibrated moisture metre] before wall linings are reinstated.

It is important to reinstate sheet bracing elements as a complete element, ie bracing sections should not be sectioned. Attention needs to be paid to sheet brace fastening requirements.

Electrical installations should be checked by a licensed electrician before electricity is reinstated.

Micro-bacteria chemical agents should be used to prevent the formation of future bacterial/fungus growth due to contaminated water.

Buildings with suspended timber floors should have any insulation removed from the underside to allow adequate drying, and any debris build-up beneath the floor space removed to allow for adequate crawl space and air movement.

Check to make sure that sewerage and storm water drains still operate.

Building Contents

Soft, absorbent furnishings would need to be adequately cleaned, bearing in mind that sewage contamination is likely to be present. If furnishings can't be adequately cleaned then they should be disposed of.

Sanitary items, such as refrigerators and other home appliances, may need to be disposed of if they can't be cleaned. Refrigerators and freezers are difficult because it's possible the contaminated water may have soaked into insulation making disposal the safest outcome.

Motor Vehicles

Motor vehicles that have been flooded where water has entered the vehicle should be thoroughly inspected. Vehicles that have suffered water damage where electrical and safety systems have been immersed in water and are uneconomical to repair, should be deregistered before they are disposed of.