New Zealand is a fantastic country to live in, but we’re at risk from earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. Thinking ahead about how you will survive an emergency or natural disaster may save your life. Here are our favourite tips for emergency planning.

Plan to survive

During a disaster, your daily New Zealand life may be severely disrupted. Shops may not be open for you to obtain goods. Water may be contaminated or in short supply. Medical facilities may be closed or overloaded. You should put together a clear emergency action plan for yourself and your family.

Along with your plan, put together an emergency survival kit ahead of time and keep this in an easily accessible space in your home. Your survival kit should include at least three days’ supply of food, water, first aid items, and basic survival accessories like candles and matches, for your entire family.


Water is essential in your emergency kit, and you’ll need drinking water and additional water for cooking and washing. New Zealand Civil Defence recommends four litres of water per person per day for drinking and washing, and an additional six litres per day overall for cooking, cleaning, and dishwashing. So a family of three people would need 18 litres of water per day for basic survival. Have you got enough?


You may not be able to purchase food during a natural disaster, so having enough food stored to cover your needs is advised. Stockpile at least three days’ supply of food for your family. Non-perishable or tinned food that requires very little water or cooking is recommended. Remember to pack a can opener too!

First aid kit items

You may not be able to access medical professionals or surgeries during an emergency. Make or buy a first aid kit that will allow you to treat minor cuts, burns, scrapes or fractures, until medical help can be found. Include your essential medicines in your first aid kit if possible, and pain killers. Make sure you can access any special medical equipment if necessary for family members with disabilities.

Basic survival accessories

To survive any disaster, you need to consider how you will survive in darkness or light, how you will communicate with others, how you will keep warm, how you will protect yourself from weather extremes, and how you will cook. These additional items should be included in your survival kit:

  • Waterproof flashlight, waterproof radio, and batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • BBQ or camp stove with gas cylinder
  • Cooking equipment like pots, pans, and eating utensils
  • Can opener
  • Weatherproof clothing, hats, and footwear
  • Bedding, sleeping bags, and blankets
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, aloe vera gel
  • Toys for small children.

The more prepared you are for an emergency, the more likely you are to survive. Plan now so that you and your family are ready if an emergency strikes!

For more information about what to do in a disaster, visit

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