Be Prepared for an Emergency: At Home
Southland will experience natural and man-made emergencies, such as, flooding, power and water failure, and earthquakes in the future. Emergencies are able to ruin everything you have worked for over the years – homes, treasured and precious mementos and, possibly the loss of a loved one. Whilst emergencies cannot be stopped, think ahead and be prepared by involving the whole family, and make an emergency plan together.
Think about how you would cope if you had to suddenly leave your home. Or how you would get along if you had to look after your family on your own after an earthquake, probably without power, gas, sewer pipes or water.
Some of the biggest differences that can be made in response to potential emergency situations are for the community to be as well prepared as possible. Being prepared means reducing the likelihood and impact of an event, as well as coping with it as well as we possibly can when it does happen.
Awareness and preparation are vital for coping with any unexpected emergency. Family emergency plans and emergency survival kits help make communities self-sufficient and prepared.
Here are 5 simple steps to prepare your own Household Emergency Plan:
Step 1: Find out what could happen to you
Step 2: Make your house safe and check your insurance
Step 3: Talk to your neighbours
Step 4: Create a Household Emergency Plan
Step 5: Put together emergency survival items
By learning what emergencies could occur in your community and what your risks may be, you can prepare for the emergencies most likely to occur in your area.
See The Hazards Checklist to help you identify potential threats to your home, workplace etc.
You also need to think about:
- If key roads are blocked for any reason, you may have to arrange for children to stay at school or with friends; getting to and from work or shops may not be possible so you need supplies stored.
- In a widespread emergency, telephones (including cell phones) may be overloaded.
- Electricity may not work which means you won't have lights/fridges/freezers/electric stoves, computers, etc. Also street lights, water pumps, and fuel pumps at gas stations won't be working and so on.
Check out the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management's 'Get Thru' website for further information on Potential Disasters.
Find out about hazards around your home (your local Council can help you)
- How high has floodwater come in the past?
- Are outside drains and channels clear?
- Do trees threaten your house?
- Are hazardous materials stored nearby?
- Is your property near a fault line or at risk of liquefaction?
- Where is a safe area to go to?
Install smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher
- Smoke alarms should be located in escape routes on all levels of a house
- On levels containing sleeping spaces, they should be installed within the sleeping space, or within three metres of every sleeping space door and they must be audible through closed doors
- You will need several alarms for large houses or multi-level houses. If you buy the inter-connectable type and wire them up, all will go off together
Store all chemicals safely:
- Well above potential floodwater level
- Many household products need safe storage
- Agricultural and pool chemicals need special care
Increase your survival skills:
- Learn First Aid
- Learn how to control small fires and know how to escape from a fire
- Talk to Emergency Management Southland about Civil Defence Emergency Management
Remove or secure any objects that could fall and do harm:
- Free-standing fireplaces
For more information see the Earthquake Commission website – Earthquake Home Preparation
Insure your home and contents, and then regularly check your cover
Check that your insurance is current and adequate to cover possible damage. If your house and/or contents are insured you will automatically receive Earthquake Commission cover for damage caused by earthquake, natural landslip, and tsunami; in the case of residential land, a storm or flood; or fire caused by any of these.
Turn off Utilities
Know where to turn off utilities such as gas, water and electricity as in an emergency these may need to be turned off. This may be because they are damaged or to prevent further injury to people and property. A plan of your home can be drawn up showing where to turn off water, electricity and gas. Always seek professional help before reconnecting the gas supply.
An escape plan outlines the safest ways out of each room of the home, and gives an outside meeting place.
Talk to your neighbours about their emergency plans and what you can do to assist each other and what skills or resources are available in the neighbourhood that can be vital in an emergency.
In most emergencies you should be able to stay in your home, plan to look after yourself and your loved ones for at least three days.
Check out the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management's 'Get Thru' website and download a copy of the Household Emergency Plan (it has a Household Emergency Checklist on the back of it).
This plan is designed to help you and your family minimise the effects of an emergency. Print out a copy and fill it in with the members of your household. This plan requires Adobe Acrobat reader, which is free to download.
Go to the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management's 'Get Thru' website and download a copy of the Emergency Survival Items. This list will help you prepare essential food, water, clothing and medical supplies for you and your family to cope for at least three days.
Basic Emergency Survival items will include:
- Bottled water – 3 litres per person for 3 days – BUT MORE IS BETTER and don't forget your pets
- Canned and non-perishable food (plus baby and pet food if necessary)
- Torch & batteries and/or light sticks
- Battery powered radio with spare batteries or wind up radio
- Important documents – will, insurance documents etc (*)
- First aid kit/personal medication
- Alternative cooking source – such as a barbeque or gas cooker
- Wind and water proof clothing, sun hats, and sturdy shoes
- First Aid Kit
- Plastic bucket with plastic bag/bin liners
- Toilet rolls
- Soap/wet wipes
- Can opener and knife
- Matches or lighter
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Pet Supplies
- Face and dust masks
*Important documents and precious photos can be scanned and stored on a memory stick or such like for ease of handling.
Note: It is not important to have all these items in one place but it is important to know how to locate them in a hurry.
Remember to regularly check and update details. The change of daylight savings is a good time to do this as well as change your smoke alarm batteries.
Also on the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management's 'Get Thru' website you will find information on preparing a Getaway Kit of essential emergency and medical items if you need to be evacuated. Everyone in the household should have a Get Away Kit appropriate to their needs.
The Ministry of Health have produced a booklet called Protecting your health in an emergency which contains information on actions to take before, during and after an emergency event. It covers areas such as, water, food saftey, getting rid of rubbish, disposal of sewage, accomodation, looking after yourself, hazardous substances, volcanic ash and pests.
Done all Five Steps?
Congratulations, you've got an Emergency Plan!