From the beginning of mankinds time on earth, humans have tried to build homes that would keep their families safe. From caves to small huts to castles and underground bunkers, humans have continued to strive for safety.
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Earthquakes are caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. They can strike without warning and can occur at any time. New Zealand has a moderate to very high risk of earthquakes. Save the Children’s emergency experts share what to do in the event of an earthquake, and how you can keep children safe during a disaster.
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand

Talk to your children about earthquakes.
Explain to your child what could happen, using simple, age-appropriate words. Outline an emergency plan for the whole family, with an evacuation plan and meeting location and emphasize that their safety is your utmost priority.
Find safe spots in your home.
Identify and discuss the safest place in an earthquake in your home and tell children to go there immediately if they feel an earthquake. The safest place is an interior room of your house without any windows, such as a bathroom or closet. If possible, take cover under something sturdy, like a heavy table.
Practice earthquake drills.
Once you’ve created your evacuation plan and talked with your children about it, it’s time to practice. Practicing earthquake drills will help children understand what to do and how to stay safe during an earthquake.
Learn your child’s school or childcare disaster plans.
If child’s school or childcare center is in an area at risk from earthquakes, find out how their emergency plan addresses earthquakes. Learn their procedures for evacuation, notifying parents and if there is an alternate pick up location.
Keep contact information up to date.
Phone numbers, addresses and relationships change. Keep your children’s school or childcare emergency release information up to date, so that if an earthquake strikes, you’ll know where your child is and who can pick them up.

Drop, cover, and hold on.

If you’re inside, drop to the ground and take cover under something sturdy like a desk or table. With one hand hold on to the object and with your other arm protect your head and neck. If you don’t have anything sturdy to take cover under, crouch down next to an interior wall. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.

Find an open area.
If you’re outside, the safest place in an earthquake is a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops.
If in a vehicle, stop.
Pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.
If you are at the beach.
If you are at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake.
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand

Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
Expect to feel aftershocks.
Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary. Help others if you can.
Be aware that electricity supply could be cut, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems can go off in buildings during an earthquake even if there is no fire. Check for, and extinguish, small fires.
If you are in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place. Use the stairs, not the elevators.
Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.
Only use the phone for short essential calls to keep the lines clear for emergency calls.
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.
Keep your animals under your direct control as they can become disorientated. Take measures to protect your animals from hazards, and to protect other people from your animals.
If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.
Many families have had their lives changed forever by disasters in New Zealand in recent years. Having a survival plan could go a long way to helping your family during and after a disaster in New Zealand. Learn how to prepare your home and family for survival in a disaster in New Zealand.