In a disaster, household water supplies, including drinking water, could be affected. Having a supply of water for yourself and members of your family is absolutely essential. Planning now to ensure you have sufficient water to get through the first few days can greatly reduce the impact of the disaster, and help you get through.
Civil defence advice is for everyone to plan to have at least three litres of drinking water for each person each day for at least three days. You also need to think about water for cooking, cleaning and washing up. The advice is to have at least one litre of water for each of the following:
- washing food and cooking for each meal
- washing dishes after a meal
- washing yourself (one litre per day for each person).
Your hot water cylinder and toilet cistern are valuable sources of water. Check that your hot water cylinder and header tank are well secured and try to avoid putting chemical cleaners in the cistern. Also, keep on hand a supply of household bleach, for disinfecting.
Store enough drinking water for three days. Prepare six large, plastic soft drink bottles of water for each person, including children. Add some extra for pets.
- Wash bottles thoroughly in hot water.
- Fill each bottle with tap water until it overflows. Add five drops of household bleach per litre of water and put in storage. Do not drink for at least 30 minutes after disinfecting.
- Label each bottle with dates showing when the bottles were filled and when they need to be refilled.
- Check the bottles every 12 months. If the water is not clear, throw it out and refill clean bottles with clean water and bleach.
- Store bottles in two separate places, somewhere dark away from direct sunlight where there is not likely to be flooding.
- Alternatively, fill plastic ice cream containers with water, cover, label and keep in the freezer. These can help keep food cool if the power is off and can also be used for drinking.
- Keep a supply of ice cubes and fruit juices.
Collect rain water but make sure that you disinfect it with household bleach (1/2 teaspoon to 10 litres). If you’re at all uncertain as to the quality of water, e.g. from a well that has been flooded, or if it might have been contaminated by smoke or ash, do not drink it.
In an emergency you may not be able to go to the supermarket for several days, or even weeks. Food supplies will eventually be provided by welfare organisations, but in the initial stages of a disaster you may need to survive on your own supplies:
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water.
- Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.
- Avoid salty foods, as they will make you thirsty.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
- protein or fruit bars
- dry cereal or granola
- peanut butter
- dried fruit
- canned juices
- non-perishable pasteurized milk
- high energy foods
- food for infants
- comfort/stress foods.
Household emergency plan
A household emergency plan will help ensure that your whole household is prepared should a natural disaster occur. Everyone needs to know:
- where to shelter in an earthquake, flood or storm
- who is responsible for checking essential items in your survival kit
- how to turn off gas, water and electricity at the mains
- how and where you will meet up during and after a disaster
- how to maintain contact with each other during an emergency
- how to contact your Civil Defence organisation for assistance during an emergency.
Find out how prepared you are by downloading your emergency plan.
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. If you have these basic supplies you will be better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt. Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and may be able to be treated without assistance from medical professionals.
If someone you know is injured your knowledge of first aid may be the difference between life and death. We recommend you take a First aid course, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination:
- two pairs of disposable Latex, or other sterile gloves (if you are allergic to Latex)
- triangular bandages (2)
- roller bandages - 50mm (1 roll) and 75mm (1 roll)
- sterile gauze- 7.5 x 7.5 (2)
- adhesive wound dressing -6cm wide x 1m long (1 strip)
- sterile non-adhesive pads- small (2) and large (3)
- adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
- adhesive tape- 25mm hypoallergenic (1 roll)
- plaster strip dressings (1 packet)
- cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect
- antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
- eye wash solution to flush the eyes and an eye wash container
- sterile eye pad
- safety pins (1 card)
- scissors (1 pair)
- splinter forceps/tweezers (1 pair)
- accident register and pencil
- first aid manual
- prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
- prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.
Here are other measures that household members can take to reduce the impact of a disaster and recover quicker:
- Learn first aid and fire safety techniques.
- Make sure your home is quake-safe.
- Ensure your insurance cover is adequate and up to date.
- Consider becoming a volunteer in your community.
- When buying a new house, find out what hazards are in the area. Get a LIM and a PIM from the council and if necessary you can seek advice from qualified experts.
It is normal for children to experience a wide range of emotions during and after an emergency. They may want to retell their experiences over and over again or they may refuse to discuss it at all.
The following are common behaviours seen in children after an earthquake: withdrawal; acting out; depression; regressive behaviour; protective behaviour.
Involve your children in the development of the family emergency plan and discuss with them the hazards in your community.
In Christchurch, many intermediate schools (Year 7 and 8) introduce children to hazards and emergency preparedness information using the What’s the Plan Stan? programme. Check with your school to find out whether they are using this material, or visit the online resources and discuss the stories and videos at home.
For people with english as a second language
Information on how to be prepared for a disaster has been translated into a number of other languages for people for who English is not their first language. The Get Ready Get Thru website is available in English; Simplified Chinese; Traditional Chinese; Hindu; Korean; Te Reo Māori; Gagana Sāmoa; Lea Faka-Tonga and Arabic.
For people with disabilities
If you, or a member of your family or community, has a disability make arrangements now to access help in the event of an emergency:
- Create a support network to help in an emergency.
- Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies.
- Give one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
- If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
- Show others how to operate your wheelchair.
- Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
- Additional supplies for people with disabilities:
- prescription medicines, list of medications including dosage, list of any allergies
- extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries
- extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen
- keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices
- medical insurance and Community Services cards
- list of doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt.
Visit the Nobody Left Behind website to view the findings of American Researchers on disaster preparedness for those with mobility impairments.
Get your pets ready
Pets are important members of the household for many families. In a disaster they will also be affected. How well your pets cope with a disaster event such as a flood, volcanic eruption or destructive earthquake depends on the actions you take now to plan for them.
Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets.
If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbours, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
If you need to evacuate your home you will want to take some essential items with you including:
- personal and family documents (birth certificates, insurance policies)
- mementoes and valuables (negatives or memory stick of family photos)
- essential items from survival kit: e.g. food, water, torch and batteries
- special dietary items
- clothing, medication, hearing aids, spare glasses, toiletries
- books, games, toys.
Store these items in a sturdy school bag or backpack - use a plastic bag as a liner to ensure items stay dry.
Find out more information on survival items and getaway kits.
In an emergency only use your phone for essential calls. For all life-threatening situations you should attempt to contact the emergency services first, by phoning 111.