Video transcript: What to do during volcanic activity

Read the transcript for our 'What to do during volcanic activity' video.

The Ministry for Ethnic Communities and the National Emergency Management Agency have worked together to create this series of videos, so our communities know what to do to prepare for different disasters and emergencies, and how to respond when they happen.

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. This could include earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunami, fires, and volcanic activity.

When an emergency happens, Civil Defence and emergency services will be busy helping the people who need them most, so it’s important that you have a plan to look after yourself and your family.

This video explains what do during volcanic activity. Aotearoa New Zealand is situated on the ‘Ring of Fire’, a highly volcanic zone around the Pacific Ocean. There are 11 active volcano sites across New Zealand. The Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, and the northern Manawatū regions are most at risk from volcanic activity. Volcanic activity can include ashfall, falling rocks, hot gases and volcanic rock, lava flows and massive mudflows.

Before volcanic activity, find out if your area is at risk. There are 16 Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups around Aotearoa New Zealand. Consult them to see how they will warn you of a volcanic eruption in your area. If you’re at risk from volcanic ash fall, add the following to your emergency supplies. Certified disposable dust masks rated P2 or N95, goggles, plastic wrap or plastic sheeting to keep ash out of electronics, cleaning supplies including an air duster, a broom, a shovel, and a vacuum cleaner with spare bags and filters, and heavy-duty plastic bags to dispose of ash.

Before ashfall. Go home to avoid driving or walking if possible. Bring pets inside, move livestock into closed shelters and make sure that animals have supplementary feed and access to clean drinking water. Close all windows and doors and shut down heat pumps to limit the entry of volcanic ash and set up a single-entry point for your house placing damp towels at the threshold to prevent ash being tracked indoors. Cover sensitive electronics and don’t remove covers until the indoor environment is completely ash free. Also remember to cover vehicles, machinery, and spa pools to avoid ash causing damage, because ash can corrode metal surfaces and cause abrasion damage to windscreens and paintwork. Disconnect drainpipes/downspouts from gutters to stop drains clogging. If you use a rainwater collection system for your water supply, disconnect the tank.

During ashfall, stay indoors. Volcanic ash is a health hazard, especially if you have respiratory difficulties such as asthma or bronchitis, and remember to keep pets indoors. Don’t attempt to clear ash from your roof while ash is falling or drive when there is ash on the road. In general, you should avoid unnecessary exposure to ash until it has settled but if you have to go outside, wear protective clothing. Finally, wear glasses instead of contacts because trapped ash can scratch your eyes

After volcanic activity, follow official advice from your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, local authorities, and emergency services. The Department of Conservation will offer advice for Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe, Ruapehu or Taranaki. Keep children indoors and discourage them from playing in ash and keep animals indoors until ash is cleaned up or washed away. If pets go outside, brush them before letting them back indoors. If you’ve evacuated, don’t return home until you are told it is safe to do so.

After any emergency, listen to the advice of Civil Defence and emergency services and don’t do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property. Remember to check on your neighbours and help others if you can, especially people who may need extra support.

Make sure you review your insurance regularly. Having insurance cover for your home and contents is important to help you get back to normal if you suffer damage in a disaster. If you don’t have insurance, this will take longer and may involve more hardship for you and your family. If your property is damaged contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If you’re renting, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company.

For more information about preparing for and responding to emergencies, go to

Remember, if you need to contact Government services in an emergency and need language support, you can request an interpreter.

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