Prepare for a Disaster

11 October 2010

The recent earthquake in Christchurch has served as a stark reminder to us all that we have to be prepared for a disaster. It's Get Ready Week (10 - 16 October) - and what better time to make sure you and your family are prepared for an emergency

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

"We all need to 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?"

And what are we doing to get the city ready for an emergency? The Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO) has been doing a lot of work around rebuilding the city's civil defence and disaster-response capability.

"We have a new civil defence training course where volunteers are required to undergo induction training and assessment before becoming authorised volunteers. Already, we've had 63 volunteers graduate from this course - we'll need even more to help get the city up and running again after an emergency.

"Hand-in-hand with this, the city's long-established network of 37 civil defence centres is being reorganised into a network of eight civil defence areas.

"A new text alert system will help warn people about a major emergency like an approaching tsunami," says Fred.

WEMO will also take part in the national tsunami civil defence exercise, Tangaroa, on Wednesday 20 October. As part of this they will be testing the tsunami and civil defence warning system.

Wellingtonians can expect to hear a jarring and shrill sound - the national Civil Defence 'Sting' siren - followed by the words:

This is a test - the next time you hear this siren it could be a real emergency or disaster. Get ready to get through - your local Council can help.

The test messages will be broadcast from vehicles operated by Council staff between 10.00am and 2.00pm - and will cover the central business district and coastal areas. In the event of a genuine tsunami emergency, the broadcast message will urge residents to get out of their homes and move inland or to high ground immediately - at least 1.5 kilometres inland or 35 metres above sea level - and not wait around to collect possessions.

"We'll also be opening up two welfare centres where people will be able to visit and learn about what a welfare centre is, and also learn some tips for emergency preparedness at home and in the workplace. The centres will be staffed by Civil Defence Emergency Management volunteers," says Fred.

Anyone interested in joining the volunteer network should call WEMO on (04) 460 0650 or email

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

Get Ready Get Thru website

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, eg 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 - eg long-life milk, cereal, crackers, tinned fish, tinned meat, baked beans, noodles, biscuits, muesli bars, nuts and raisins
  • Essential medications
  • Radio and batteries

Water Bottles for Sale

We're selling 15-litre water bottles for $15 around the central city for the next three days over lunchtime to help people with their emergency kits at:

  • Cuba Mall, 12 noon - 1.30pm, today
  • New World, 12 noon - 1.30pm Willis Street, tomorrow
  • Civic Square, 12 noon - 1.30pm, Thursday.