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Earthquakes, flooding highlight the need for community preparedness

Media Release - 05 June 2015

This week’s flooding, the recent 4.7 magnitude earthquake centred near Dunedin, and the May earthquake just north of Wanaka are a timely reminder of some of the region’s hazards and the need for everyone to be prepared for them.

Otago CDEM Group Controller Wayne Scott said those people who hadn’t already taken steps to be prepared for similar events in future were strongly encouraged to act now.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand’s 2012 NZ General Social Survey showed that the percentage of Otago people who considered they had the basic necessities (emergency food and water for three days, and an emergency plan) was just 18 percent, compared to the national average of 22 percent.

Mr Scott said he hoped recent events had motivated people who had not already taken steps to be prepared for potential disasters to do so.

“We can see how a rain storm can quickly cause damage to property and roads and how a strong earthquake could cause more serious and widespread damage than occurred in the recent quakes in Dunedin and Wanaka, potentially disrupting people’s ability to travel, isolating communities and affecting essential services like telecommunications and power.”

“The reality is that after a major disaster, help cannot get to everyone as quickly as they might need it. It is in that immediate aftermath that individuals and families will be most vulnerable and this is what they need to be prepared for,” Mr Scott said.

Preparing a household or business emergency plan which people could discuss with their family or work colleagues, and which could greatly reduce stress when disaster struck, was recommended.

Family discussion on what to do if an earthquake happened, for instance, during the day when parents were at work and children were at school, or out and about, would help everyone know what to do - head home, stay put, or meet at an agreed point.

Mr Scott recommended people ensure they had emergency survival items on hand to last three or more days, as this was critical to helping them get through a crisis such as an earthquake, as comfortably as possible until help arrived.

“People are likely to already have many of the items they will need – torches, a radio, a first aid kit and medications, batteries, food and water, and alternative cooking appliances such as a barbeque.”

“You don’t have to have them packed away in a bag untouched - just check that you have the essential items, and can find them easily (and in the dark) during a disaster and keep things in working order.”

Having plenty of water on hand in the event of a disaster was particularly important as water supplies, including drinking water, could be disrupted.

“If everyone took steps to have at least three litres of drinking water on hand for each person each day for three days, their ability to survive the disaster comfortably would improve massively,” Mr Scott said.

Further information on what to do to get ready and during and after an earthquake starts, is available by going to www.getthru.govt.nz/earthquake, and from local councils.

For further information contact

Wayne Scott
Otago CDEM Group Controller
Ph 03 474 0827 or 0274 327 224

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