Disaster Awareness Week

13 October 2009

The earthquakes in Samoa, Indonesia and Vanuatu serve as a stark reminder to us all that we have to be prepared for a disaster. It's Disaster Awareness Week - and what better time to make sure you and your family are prepared for an emergency?

Family with emergency kit.

Family with emergency kit.

As the Council's emergency preparedness manager, Fred Mecoy, points out, it's not just earthquakes Wellingtonians have to be prepared for - storms, floods and landslides can cause massive localised damage and disruption too.

"We all should be prepared to cope on our own for at least three days after a disaster - so stock up on emergency supplies for your household," says Fred.

"Make an emergency plan for your family, flatmates and loved ones - where will you meet? Who will get the kids? Who will check on vulnerable neighbours and friends?

"We're encouraging people to get to know their neighbours. You might need each other in an emergency."

We're doing our bit to help people get themselves ready - we're selling 15-litre water bottles around the central city for the next three days over lunchtime to help prompt people to put together or refresh their emergency kits.

"Come along to Midland Park from 12 noon to 1.30pm today to pick up your bottle for the bargain price of $10. We'll also be selling the bottles at the same time in Manners Mall tomorrow and in Civic Square on Thursday.

"It's a great way to kick-start your emergency kit," says Fred.

And what are we doing to get the city ready for an emergency? Fred has recently been appointed as the manager of the Council's Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO) - and lots of work has been going on to build up the city's civil defence volunteer network.

"We're setting up civil defence hubs around the city and we'll need more keen, committed people to help run them. We've got some fantastic volunteers already and we'll need even more to help get the city up and running again after an emergency.

"We'll kick off a volunteer recruitment drive soon - so watch this space!' says Fred.

Here's a sample list of the sort of things you need to have in your emergency kit.

  • Water - minimum three litres per person per day, so a family of four needs at least 36 litres
  • Toilet paper, plastic bags, nappies and sanitary items
  • Baby wipes (for washing)
  • Pet food
  • Gas stove/BBQ and a lighter or matches
  • First-aid kit
  • Candles
  • Torch and batteries
  • Food for three days
  • Essential medications
  • Radio and batteries.

It's also a good idea to stash a pair of old trainers, wet weather gear and some non-perishable food at work. You could be stuck in town if the roads are closed and you might have a long way to walk - something not easily done in high heels or office shoes.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Civil Defence's website.