Video transcript: What to do in an earthquake

Read the transcript for our 'What to do in an earthquake' 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 an earthquake.

Aotearoa New Zealand is at risk of earthquakes which can be strong and damaging.

Earthquakes can be followed by aftershocks that could continue for an extended period.

You can’t predict when an earthquake will happen, but you can protect yourself and your family.

Before an earthquake, reduce the potential impact on your home by fixing or fastening objects that could fall.

During an earthquake, Drop, Cover and Hold wherever you are. This means drop down on your hands and knees, cover your head and neck, whether you are under shelter or not, and hold on until the shaking stops. We Drop, Cover, and Hold because it stops you from being knocked over, makes you a smaller target for flying or falling objects, and protects your head, neck, and vital organs. Avoid doorways as they are no stronger than any other part of a house and a swinging door can cause more injury. Don’t run outside as you risk getting hit by things like falling bricks or glass.

If you have a mobility impairment sit on a chair or bed or get as low as you can and cover your head and neck, or drop down as low as you can. If you use a wheelchair or walker Lock the wheels, Cover and Hold. 

If the earthquake lasts longer than a minute or is strong enough to make it difficult to stand, get your grab bag and move to higher ground or as far inland as soon as you can, there could be the risk of a tsunami.

After an earthquake, don’t run outside. You don’t have to evacuate a building straight away unless it is showing obvious signs of distress, or you are in a tsunami evacuation zone. Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to. 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. Put on protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, and sturdy footwear to protect yourself from injury by broken objects. Use social media or text messages instead of calling so phone lines are clear for emergency calls. Keep control of your pets to protect them from hazards and to also protect other people.

Earthquakes 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. Also look out for 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 your grab bag and 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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