News | 1 February 2023
Share on social

Being prepared when an emergency strikes

A major weather event or natural disaster can strike at any time. Are you and your whānau prepared?

A cyclist riding over debris and rocks strewn over a wide road, which runs alongside the coast. The sky is blue following the storm.

The Christchurch earthquake of 2011, the Nelson fire of 2019, and the Auckland flooding in January 2023 – these unforeseen events up-ended lives and left thousands of Kiwis displaced without warning.

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Here are some steps to be prepared.

Store emergency water

What would you do if you had no running water? Emergency water is the single best thing you can store to be more prepared for a major earthquake or other disaster.

The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (or WREMO) says you should have enough water to last for seven days.

The recommended amount of stored emergency water is 140 litres per person per week (20 litres per person per day). And don’t forget about your pets. Put extra aside for your furry friends. You may also need to store more if you have unwell people or small children in your family.

More about storing emergency water, including info on storage vessels and where to get water tanks, is on the WREMO website.

Get a grab bag ready to go

A grab bag or getaway kit is a small backpack of essential items you can grab if you need to evacuate your home or workplace with little or no warning.

Have grab bags ready for everyone in your whānau or household. Each bag should have walking shoes, warm clothes, raincoat and hat, water and snack food, hand sanitiser, phone charger, cash, and copies of important documents and photo ID. Remember any medications you might need as well!

Visit the Get Ready website for more info about what to pack.

You can buy a pre-made grab bag at Grab & Go.

Branches and debris strewn across a flooded road. Island Bay's island is in the background, along with Wellington's eastern hills. The sky is blue after the storm has passed.
Debris was strewn around Wellington's south coast when wild waves washed over roads and crashed into and damaged properties in April 2020.

Have supplies on hand at home

Your house is already full of emergency items disguised as everyday things! Your blankets, clothes, and bathroom products are all things you can use in emergencies.

Ideally, you can be self-sufficient for seven days. However, don't forget neighbours can help each other out by sharing resources, such as gas for a camping stove.

By looking after yourself and your household, you’ll also be helping emergency services focus their limited resources on the people who are most in need of help.

As well as water and food, some useful supplies to have at home for an emergency include medicine, torches and radio with spare batteries, a barbeque, and plain unscented bleach for treating stored water. More useful items and info are on the WREMO website.

Keep sumps and drains clear

The Council manages the network that collects, transports and disposes of stormwater. Pōneke has 12,500 road sumps, and our crews clear the hot spots regularly, but sometimes the schedule means sumps get blocked in between cleans.

When there's bad weather, you can help prevent serious flooding by removing rubbish or leaves from nearby roadside drains.

It’s also important that you regularly have your roof guttering cleared so rainwater can drain off effectively.

Find out more on our preventing pollution and flooding webpage.

Work crews in orange high-visibility gear with their vehicles and road closed signage cordoning off a coastal road, with massive ocean swells visible beyond them, and a blue, cloudless sky.

Have a household plan in place

In an emergency, such as an earthquake, communication networks are likely to fail and prevent you from connecting with your loved ones. It is also possible that your assets could be damaged or destroyed.

Having a basic plan in place will keep you safer, let you connect with your loved ones faster and protect some of your most important assets.

Consider where your meeting place will be if you are not at home when the emergency occurs. What will you do if you have no power, or must leave your home in a hurry? Where is your nearest Community Emergency Hub?

These are just some things to consider. Visit WREMO for a handy eight-step guide to creating a plan for your whānau. There’s also an Emergency Plan Template.

Get to know your neighbours!

Your neighbours are your first source of support in an emergency, and it’s important to get to know them. Research shows communities that recover best from natural hazards are those that have good social networks.

We have resources for neighbourhoods on our website, where you can find out about getting to know your neighbours and preparing for emergencies. You can also get access to our ‘neighbours contact cards’ on which you can share your own and record your neighbours’ details.

Keep insurances up to date

Most people are under-insured for their home and contents. After the Christchurch earthquake, insurers in New Zealand moved from a full replacement model to a sum-insured model.

Make sure that your home and your possessions are insured for the right amount. Contact your insurer to discuss this.

Read about natural disaster insurance at

Find out more

There is more useful information on the WREMO website, including about specific hazards, and advice for preparing your work place and community for emergencies. There's also this handy visual resource which you can download and print out as a reminder.