Video transcript: What to do in a tsunami

Read the transcript for our 'What to do in a tsunami' 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 to do in a flood. Floods are New Zealand’s number one hazard. They are the emergency that happens most frequently and causes the most fatalities. Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water don’t wait for official warnings. Get your grab bag, head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.

During a flood, never try to walk, swim or drive through the water. Many flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water. You should always assume that flood water is contaminated with farm run-off, chemicals, and sewage. Contaminated flood water can make you sick so do not drink it. Move pets to a safe place. If you must leave your home, get your grab bag and take your pets with you; if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them. Ensure you move valuable and dangerous items as high above the floor as possible. This includes electrical equipment and chemicals. Use watertight containers to store important items. Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to and lift curtains, rugs and bedding off the floor.

After a flood, only return home after Civil Defence and emergency services have told you it is safe to do so. It may not be safe even after the floodwaters have receded. Stay away from damaged areas, you might hinder rescue and other emergency operations and be at further risk from the residual effects of floods.

After a flood, the ground and floors may be slippery or covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails, so it’s important to look before you step. Be sure to throw away food and drinking water that has come into contact with flood water and avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. Follow any ‘boil water' notice instructions from your local authorities. Clean and dry your house and everything in it and throw away anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned. Throw away wooden spoons, plastic utensils, and baby bottle teats and dummies if they have been covered by floodwater. There’s no way to safely clean them. Disinfect metal pans and utensils by boiling them in clean water. Protect yourself by wearing a respirator, goggles, gloves, protective clothing that covers your arms and legs and sturdy footwear.

Floods can trigger landslides so you should know the warning signs of landslides so you can act quickly if you see them. Look out for small slips, rock falls and subsidence at the bottom of slopes, sticking doors and window frames and gaps where frames are not fitting properly. Outside fixtures such as steps, decks, and verandas moving or tilting away from the rest of the house and new cracks or bulges on the ground, road, footpath, retaining walls and other hard surfaces; and tilting trees, retaining walls or fences. If there’s a landslide or you think one is about to happen, get out of the way quickly and evacuate the building you are in.

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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