There are thousands of earthquakes in New Zealand every year. Most of these are either so small or so deep within the earth that they cannot be felt. But each year, about 150 – 200 quakes are big enough to be felt.
A large, damage-causing earthquake is much less likely but could occur at any time. Here are our top 5 tips for what to do after a damaging earthquake:
1. Be informed
Listen to the radio or follow social media for updated emergency information and instructions from your local emergency management officials. Earthquakes can trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires and tsunami, so staying informed can help you know what to do to stay safe.
2. Expect aftershocks
Aftershocks are normal for the first few days and weeks after a major earthquake. Remember to drop, cover and hold. It stops you being knocked over, makes you a smaller target and protects your organs. Do not run outside or stand in doorways.
3. Keep safe and look out for others
Look after yourself and get medical treatment if necessary. Help others if you can. Check on your neighbours, especially those who are older, have young children or have a mental or physical disability.
4. Avoid dangerous areas
Assess your home and workplace for damage. If the building appears unsafe get everyone out. Use the stairs, not an elevator. When outside, watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines. Stay out of damaged areas.
5. Text if not urgent
Try not to overload phone lines with non-emergency calls. Text friends and family to see if they are OK.
For more information see the NZ Civil Defence website.
It’s normal to feel upset after an earthquake. If you need support, advice or just someone to talk to, call the Ministry of Health's 24/7 Earthquake Support Line free 0800 777 846. There’s an experienced team of people ready to respond.
The Mental Health Foundation also has an earthquake resources section.
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