All of New Zealand, including the Taupō District, is at risk of earthquakes. Smaller earthquakes are happening all the time but a large earthquake can be frightening and damaging.
We can’t predict when one will happen, but we can protect ourselves and our whānau. There is a lot you can do to prepare for a large earthquake and be sure you can cope better with the impacts on you and those you care for.
Make your home safer. Fix and fasten objects that could fall and hurt you in an earthquake.
Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths result from people moving during earthquake shaking, due to collapsing walls and roofs, and falling glass and objects caused by the earthquake shaking. You can reduce the impacts of earthquakes by making sure objects that can fall, damage, and hurt are either placed somewhere else, or fixed and fastened.
Think about your whare/home, wāhi mahi / workplace, kura/schools, and in other places where you and your whānau/family spend a lot of time and see what you can do to make them safer.
Inside your whare/home
- Use brackets or specific seismic restraints to securely fix bookcases, cabinets, and other tall furniture and appliances to wall framing.
- Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sleep or sit. Use appropriately sized hooks and push them closed to prevent the string or wire jumping out during shaking.
- Install strong latches on cabinet doors. The contents of cabinets can shift during the shaking of an earthquake. Latches will prevent cabinets from opening and spilling their contents.
- Place heavy objects on shelves near the floor. Secure large ornamental items that might fall and break.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed, latched metal cabinets.
- If you have a tall chimney made from brick or concrete masonry, consider removing or replacing it. Chimneys built before the 1970s that extend above the roofline are at greater risk of collapse.
- Hot water cylinders should be secured to wall framing with seismic restraints. If the water heater tips over, the gas line can break, causing a fire hazard, and the water line can rupture. Consider having a certifying plumber and gasfitter install flexible fittings for gas and water pipes.
- If your whare/home has a header tank, make sure it is well secured. If the tank is no longer in use, remove it.
- Consider replacing heavy roofing materials, such as clay or slate tiles, with lighter weight options. Ensure any heavy tiles are properly secured to roof framing beneath.
- Make sure your whare/home is securely anchored to its foundations and that adequate bracing is in place. If you are not sure, contact a professional engineer or Licensed Building Practitioner. Buildings that are securely attached to their foundations and correctly braced are less likely to be severely damaged during earthquakes, and less likely to become uninhabitable.
- Consider having your whare/home evaluated by a Chartered Professional Engineer or Licensed Building Practitioner. This is particularly important if there are signs of structural defects, such as cracks in foundations or chimneys.
Keep your pets safe
Think about where your pets sleep or hide, or where crates, cages or tanks are kept. Ensure they are as safe as possible by securing objects that might fall on them, or hazardous substances that might harm them.
Have insurance and review your level of cover regularly
Review your insurance regularly. Having insurance cover for your home and contents is important to help you get back on your feet if you suffer damage in a disaster.
In a severe earthquake, every second counts. Make sure you know what actions to take in the places where you spend most of your time.
✔️ Make and practise your emergency plan
✔️ Have your grab bag and emergency supplies ready
✔️ Know how to stay informed
Practise Drop, Cover and Hold at least twice a year.
You can do this when the clocks change and by taking part in New Zealand ShakeOut. It's important to practise the right action to take so that when a real earthquake happens, you know what to do.
Drop, Cover and Hold
Drop, Cover and Hold is the right action to take during an earthquake. It stops you being knocked over, makes you a smaller target for falling and flying objects, and protects your head, neck and vital organs. Do not try to stand in a doorway – in modern homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that can swing and injure you.
If you are inside, Drop, Cover and Hold – do not run outside or you risk getting hit by falling bricks or concrete and glass. You should only leave if the building is showing obvious signs of distress, or if you are in a tsunami evacuation zone. Read more about what to do during a tsunami.
If you are outside, move away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold. Stay there until the shaking stops.
Even after earthquake shaking stops, move with care as debris can cause further injuries.
How to Drop, Cover and Hold
- DROP down on your hands and knees. This protects you from falling but lets you move if you need to.
- COVER your head and neck (or your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk (if it is within a few steps of you). If there is no shelter nearby, cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
- HOLD on to your shelter (or your position to protect your head and neck) until the shaking stops. If the shaking shifts your shelter around, move with it.
Expect there will be aftershocks, these can happen minutes, days, weeks, months and even years following a large earthquake.
- Each time you feel an aftershock - Drop, Cover and Hold.
- Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary.
- Do not run outside. It is frightening to stay in a building immediately after an earthquake, but it is much safer than going outside. An earthquake is not like a fire. You do not have to evacuate a building straight away unless it is showing obvious signs of distress or you are in a tsunami evacuation zone.
- Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to. 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.
- If you can, put on protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, and sturdy footwear. This is to protect yourself from injury by broken objects.
- If you are in a store, unfamiliar commercial building or on public transport, follow the instructions of those in charge.
- Use social media or text messages instead of calling to keep phone lines clear for emergency calls.
- Keep control of your pets. Protect them from hazards and protect other people from your animals.
- Check on your neighbours and anyone who might need your help.
If your property is damaged:
- Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
- If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company.
- Take photos of any damage. It will help speed up assessments of your claims.
Pets and other animals
Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the earthquake has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their way home.
- Try to keep pets calm and under control so that they don’t try to run away.
- Keep leashes and pet-carrier boxes handy. Make sure they have plenty of water.
- If farming, check livestock have access to fresh water as well as their general welfare. Check fences to ensure livestock are secure.
- Be aware that the behaviour of pets and livestock may change dramatically after an earthquake and they may become more aggressive or defensive.
Further advice about caring for your pets and other animals after an emergency is available on Ministry for Primary Industries website.