Be Prepared


While many organisations will help in an emergency, individuals should be prepared to protect themselves and their property from the impact of a disaster. In a catastrophic emergency where bridges and roads are destroyed, you may have to rely on your own resources for some time.

Readiness is about knowing what you need to know and having what you need to have to be better prepared for an emergency.

Disruption of Electricity

Disruption to electricity can cause the following:

Impacts On
Alternatives in an Emergency


  • BBQ with fuel or full gas bottle
  • Camping stove with gas cylinders

Food storage

  • Use food in this order: fresh, refrigerated, frozen then dried foods (cans and packets)
  • Keep fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible
  • Throw away freezer food after 3 days


  • LPG heater / log burner
  • Warm clothes, hats and gloves
  • Sleeping bag / foil survival blankets


  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Glow sticks
  • Lanterns

Portable phones

  • Standard non-cordless phone in the house or car-charger for cell phones

Loss of communication

Loss of communication can be a scary time but it doesn't have to be if you are prepared for the following:

Impacts On
Alternatives in an Emergency

Keeping in contact with family

  • Plan who will collect children from school/care
  • Have an agreed message point (eg. front of fridge)
  • Have an agreed meeting and contact point

Seeking help

  • A sheet or towel hung out of the window is a signal for help
  • Discuss emergency actions with neighbours
  • Contact neighbourhood support or start a group

Disruption of Water

If your water supply is cut or the tap water is contaminated, be prepared to do the following:

Impacts On
Alternatives in an Emergency

Cooking / drinking

  • Use stored water - header tank, hot water cylinder, toilet cistern
  • Have containers to collect rain or stream water. You must treat this water by boiling before use.
  • Use bottled water and other drinks (juice, sodas)


  • Alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • Unscented household bleach


Everyone should learn how to turn off your home's water supply. It would also be wise to learn how to do this at work. Turning off the water will save water damage caused by broken pipes and will prevent any contaminated water getting into the hot water cylinder which may be your best supply of drinking water for a while.

Storing Bottled Water

To store bottled water, follow the steps below:

  1. Wash bottles thoroughly in hot water. Fill each bottle with tap water until it overflows and close with cap
  2. Store in a cool dark place and replace the water every 6-12 months
  3. Boil the water before using.

If storing store-bought water check the expiry date before use.

Road Blocked

In a disaster, you may not be able to get to your doctor or pharmacy for several days - especially if you are evacuated from home. It is wise to ensure you never run low on essential medicines and don't forget to take them with you if you have to evacuate.

Impacts On
Alternatives in an Emergency

Visiting doctor / pharmacy

  • Keep at least one week's supply of essential medications

No emergency services available

  • Have a comprehensive first aid kit and training
  • Have a fire extinguisher for fighting small fires

Getting groceries

  • Have adequate stocks in the pantry


Impacts On
Alternatives in an Emergency


  • Camping toilet / bury waste

Rubbish collection

  • Store rubbish in plastic bags in a secure area


If public announcements say don't flush your toilet - don't. What you flush may end up in someone else's home.

Until the system is fixed, a caravan toilet or covered bucket in the house, garage or shed should be used. Dig a deep hole in the garden to empty these into. Put a fly-proof cover over the hole.

Alternatively, you could make a privacy screen around a garden pit and use it as a toilet.

It may be some time before regular rubbish collection resumes. Bury bio-degradable rubbish in the garden, compost it or store it in well-sealed bags with other rubbish and keep the bags away from animals. Listen to your radio for details about collection.

House Damage

If your house is damaged and you and your family are unable to remain in it, you will need to make alternative arrangements - you could think about the following:

Impacts On
Alternatives in an Emergency


  • Caravan / tents
  • Discuss alternative accommodation with family or friends.

Care of Pets

If you have pets, you will want to look after them during and after a disaster. Keep extra pet food on hand - tinned or dry food is best as it keeps the longest. A pet carry cage will be invaluable if you have to leave your home in a hurry. If you cannot take your pets with you, leave them free inside your house so that they can move away from danger. Leave plenty of food and water and a dirt box for them. Place a note which is clearly visible for emergency workers, informing them what animals they will encounter and where you can be contacted.