One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible after-effects.

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently, and without warning at any time of the day or night.

Although there is no guarantee of safety during an earthquake, identifying potential hazards ahead of time and planning in advance can save lives and significantly reduce injuries and damage to property.

drop, cover and hold still the best advice

drop to the ground, cover head with arms and hold sturdy object

During an earthquake

If you are:

  • inside a building, move no more than a few steps, drop, cover and hold. Stay indoors until 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.
  • in an elevator, drop, cover and hold. When the shaking stops, try to get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so.
  • 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.
  • at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake.
  • 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.
  • in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling debris or landslides.

After an earthquake

  • Listen to your local radio stations as 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.