School Emergency Plans

8 August 2011

If you've got children, make sure you know what their school or preschool plans to do after an earthquake or other emergency.

WEMO advisor Karlene Tipler with children at Kids' Reserve childcare centre

WEMO advisor Karlene Tipler with children at Kids' Reserve childcare centre

That's the advice from our staff at the Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO), which has been working with numerous Wellington schools and early childhood centres this year to help them develop practical emergency plans.

WEMO contacted schools after the February quake to offer assistance and advisors have been in hot demand - talking to children, staff and parents about the importance of being prepared, having evacuation options, running regular drills and sharing information so everyone knows what's planned.

One of many making changes is Kids' Reserve, a childcare centre in the Reserve Bank building on The Terrace. With the help of a WEMO advisor, they have been overhauling their plans, making sure all staff know what to do and working with eight other central city centres - sharing plans and looking at ways they could support each other.

Children at the centre are taught the importance of moving away from glass if things start shaking, and practise getting down and under cover every few days using the turtle song drill. Parents have been invited to a talk this month to get some first-hand tips from a Christchurch centre manager and the centre has signed up to receive WEMO text alerts.

"At WEMO's suggestion, we're also in the process of setting up a text group so we can send mass texts to all parents if we need to," says centre manager Rosemary McLaren.

"We'll also make sure our emergency plans are part of the induction pack that goes to all new parents".

The Council's Emergency Preparedness Manager, Fred Mecoy, says it's important that evacuation routes are tested so children know what to do, staff can see how long it takes little legs, and parents know what the plan is.

"They need to know where their children would be evacuated to," he says. "We don't want them trying to get into the affected area when their kids may be safe and sound elsewhere."

For more information or to contact a WEMO advisor, phone (04) 460 0650.

Emergency alerts on your mobile

You can sign up to receive WEMO alerts direct to your mobile phone.

Text alerts are free (but sign-up costs you four texts at your standard rate).

You'll get three or four 'test' messages a year. Any other message will be a real alert.

Text alerts are not available for those using the 2degrees network.

If you receive an emergency alert, forward it or re-tweet to your network.

Signing up

1. Wait for a reply after each text sent. If you already receive tweets to your mobile phone, go to step 5.

2. Text the word 'start' to 8987.

3. Reply with the word 'signup'.

4. Create a unique username. (You won't need to remember it again, so you could use your name followed by random characters, eg 'Kelly495hgim'.)

5. Reply with your username (if already on Twitter, use your existing username and it will ask you for your password).

6. Send/reply 'follow wemonz' to 8987.