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What to Do After an Earthquake

Find information about what to do after a real earthquake or tsunami warning.

After an earthquake

  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary. Help others if you can.
  • 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.
  • 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 once the initial shaking stops. 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. 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.
  • Follow the instructions of Civil Defence and emergency services.
  • If you are near the coast and feel an earthquake that is LONG or STRONG: GET GONE, this is a natural tsunami warning.

During a real tsunami warning

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by large earthquakes. All of New Zealand’s coast line is at risk of tsunami. A tsunami wave can grow to become a fast moving wall of water.

If you are at the coast and experience any of the following:

  • feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more,
  • see a sudden rise or fall in sea level, or,
  • hear loud and unusual noises from the sea,

...move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can. Walk or bike if possible.

Do not wait for official warnings.

Remember, LONG or STRONG: GET GONE.

Tsunami zone maps

Your local Civil Defence Group has tsunami zone maps and regional advice. Make sure you know where to go, whether you are at home, at work or out and about. Don’t wait for an official tsunami warning.

Find your local tsunami map on the Civil Defence website

The ShakeOut website and registration system are services of SCEC, the Southern California Earthquake Center @ USC
New Zealand ShakeOut Step 1: Secure it now! Step 2: Make a plan Step 3: Make disaster kits Step 4: Is your place safe? Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On Step 6: Check it out! Step 7: Communicate and recover!