Be prepared

To encourage educators and students to use Te Papa's resources to learn about earthquakes and volcanoes.

Use the following information to help students prepare for an emergency.

The lists are based on information from Civil Defence. For up-to-date information and advice, consult the Civil Defence website.
Civil Defence

On this page:

Before: Being prepared

During: What to do during a natural disaster

After: What to do after a natural disaster

Before: Being prepared

In an emergency, you and your family won’t have time to stop and pack. It’s a good idea to have a B-Ready Kit so you can grab it and get out.

Items to have in your B-Ready Kit

  • Enough food and water for everyone in your house for three days. This food has to last, so tinned or dried food is best – and don’t forget a tin opener!

  • Something portable to cook on, like a small barbecue

  • Medicines, like your inhaler if you’re an asthmatic

  • A first-aid kit

  • A radio and batteries

  • Waterproof torches and batteries

  • Spare warm, waterproof clothing and shoes

  • Something to sleep in, like sleeping bags or blankets

  • Toilet paper and plastic rubbish bags for your emergency toilet

  • Hearing aids, glasses, or other essential personal items that family members use

And for your pet

  • A collar with a disc showing your name, phone number, and (if it fits) your address

  • Tinned pet food

  • A carry box and pet blanket. Put your name and address on the box

Sometimes items like clothing, medicines, and torches can’t be stored away. Make sure family members know where to get these items in a hurry, and always keep them in the same place.

Keep it fresh

Remember to replace the food and water every year and the batteries every three months.

Emergency plan

A disaster can happen at any time, day or night, at home or away. Make an emergency plan so you’ll know what to do.

Your emergency plan should include:

  • where to shelter safely within your home if there’s an earthquake, storm, or flood – you’ll have to practise how to get there
  • the name of the person in charge of getting the B-Ready Kit
  • the name of the person in charge of looking after any pets, and the plan for what to do with them
  • where the local Civil Defence evacuation place is – usually a school.

During: What to do during a natural disaster

What to do in an earthquake

If you are inside:

  • stay there
  • find somewhere safe and strong to get under, for example, a strong table or desk, and hold on to the legs – it’ll be moving too.

If you are outside:

  • keep away from buildings and other things that could fall on you, such as trees, power poles, traffic lights, signs, and bridges

  • crouch on the ground and cover your head.

If you are in a car or bus:

  • stay in it.

What to do if a tsunami threatens

An earthquake can trigger a tsunami. If you feel an earthquake or hear a tsunami warning siren, and you are near a beach or a river close to a beach:

  • move as far inland as you can – the higher up the better

  • don’t go down to the beach to watch a tsunami (if you can see a tsunami from the beach, it’s too late to run)

  • listen to the radio for Civil Defence advice and instructions.

What to do during a volcanic eruption

As most people live some distance from volcanoes, the most likely danger is from falling ash, so:

  • stay indoors

  • close all windows and doors

  • listen to the radio for Civil Defence advice and instructions

  • keep any pets inside.

If you are outside:

  • put a piece of clothing or cloth across your mouth and breathe through that

  • put on goggles (even swimming ones) if you have them.

If the volcano is erupting lava and other debris:

  • listen to the radio for Civil Defence advice and instructions.

Radio stations to listen to during a natural disaster

GetThru lists the radio networks that broadcast important information and advice in an emergency. Record the frequencies for your local stations in your emergency plan.

After: What to do after a natural disaster

What to do after an earthquake

  • Wait a moment, take a deep breath, and quietly check that it is safe for you to move.

  • Stay with someone older who knows what to do.

  • Listen to the radio for Civil Defence advice and instructions.

  • You and your family need to have your B-Ready Kit handy in case you need to evacuate.

  • If you can stay inside, remain near your safe place as there will probably be aftershocks. You may need to quickly get back under the table for protection.

What to do after a tsunami strikes

  • Stay in your evacuation area until Civil Defence says otherwise.

  • Don’t go sightseeing. There is usually more than one tsunami wave. They are far apart, and the second one usually takes a while to hit land – but it’s bigger than the first wave.

What to do after a volcanic eruption

  • Stay indoors. Don’t go sightseeing.

  • Stay with someone older who knows what to do.

  • Listen to the radio for Civil Defence advice and instructions.

  • You and your family need to have your B-Ready Kit handy in case you need to evacuate.

  • If your family has been evacuated, you can return home only when Civil Defence has said it is safe to do so.