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If you need to evacuate your home, you may not have much time to prepare so put together a getaway kit or grab-bag and keep it in a handy place in case an emergency happens.

You may need to evacuate in these situations:

Prepare your getaway kit

Tailor your getaway kit to your household's needs, including:

  • Medication and personal support equipment such as hearing aids and spare batteries, glasses or mobility aids.
  • Emergency water and easy-to-carry food rations such as energy bars and dried foods in case there are delays in reaching a civil defence centre or a place where you might find support. If you have any special dietary requirements, ensure you have extra supplies.
  • Essential items for infants or young children such as formula and food, nappies and a favourite toy.
  • Toiletries.
  • Change of clothes.
  • Phone charger and essential contact numbers.
  • Include important documents: identification (birth and marriage certificates, driver’s licences and passports), financial documents (e.g. insurance policies and mortgage information), and precious family photos. You may want to save scans of your documents onto a memory stick or save them in the cloud. 
  • Remember your pets – include pet food and a carrier/leash.

Find out more about getting home ready.

Disruption to electricity

While many organisations will help in an emergency, individuals are ultimately responsible for protecting themselves and their property from the effects of disasters. In a catastrophic emergency where bridges and roads are destroyed you will have to rely on your own resources for some time.

Alternatives when there is no power


  • BBQ with fuel or a 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.


  • LPG heater or log burner.
  • Warm clothes.
  • Sleeping bag/foil survival blankets.


  • Torch with spare batteries.
  • Glow sticks.
  • Lanterns.

Portable phones

  • Standard non-cordless phone in the house.
  • 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 it.

Prepare for a loss of communication

Keeping in contact with family

  • Plan who will collect children from school/care.
  • Find out about your school plans to provide information during an emergency.
  • Have an agreed message point (e.g. displayed on the fridge).
  • Have an agreed meeting and contact point if you're not able to get home.

Seeking help

  • Call 111 if your life is at risk.
  • Discuss emergency actions and community meeting places with neighbours.
  • Connect with local community groups and discuss how you can support each other during an emergency.

Staying informed

  • Battery-powered radio (with spare batteries).
  • Car radio.

No water

During an emergency, your water supply may be cut off or the water coming out of the taps may become contaminated.

Your water supply may be disrupted in these situations:

What to do if you lose access to safe water

Learning how to turn off your property’s water will help prevent damage caused by broken pipes or by contaminated water getting into the hot water cylinder - which may be your best supply of drinking water for a while.


  • Use stored water. You may be able to access water from your header tank or hot water cylinder.
  • Have a container to collect rain or stream water.
  • Use bottled water and other drinks (juice, sodas).
  • Be sure to boil or treat water if you are directed to, or are concerned about contamination.


  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

To store bottled water:

  1. Wash bottles thoroughly in hot water. You can use plastic soft drink bottles but do not use plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them.
  2. Fill each bottle with tap water until it overflows.
  3. Add five drops of unscented household bleach per litre of water (or half a teaspoon for 10 litres).
  4. Keep in a cool dark place and replace the water every 12 months. Labelling each bottle with the date will help you keep track of when they need to be replaced.

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 must evacuate.

Your road may become blocked in these situations:

Prepare for roadblocks in your area

Visiting doctor/pharmacy

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

No emergency services available

  • Have a comprehensive first aid kit.
  • Have a fire extinguisher.

Getting groceries

  • Have adequate stocks in the pantry (at least three days).


  • Know where to find up-to-date information about road conditions and closures.
  • The Waka Kotahi website is a good place to start. You should also find out the online channels and radio stations that your local civil defence team use to broadcast information during an emergency. 
  • Head to our homepage and click your district on the map to find out how your Southland civil defence team provide information.


During an emergency, there may be a disruption to waste - including to sewerage systems - meaning you can’t use your toilet, and it’s likely there won’t be a kerbside rubbish collection any time soon.

There may be disruption to sewerage and rubbish collection in these situations:

During an emergency


  • 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 portable toilet or covered bucket in the house, garage, backyard 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.

Rubbish collection

  • Store rubbish in plastic bags in a secure area.
  • 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 resuming.

House damage

If your home is damaged and you and your family are unable to remain in it, you will need to make alternative arrangements.

Your home may become damaged in these situations:

If your home is damaged

The following could provide shelter for you and your family:

  • Tent/caravan.
  • Discuss alternative accommodation with family or friends.
  • Follow the updates from your local civil defence team for more information about how to access accommodation support.

Caring for pets

Disasters can also be really tough on your pets. Keeping them in mind when preparing for an emergency is the best way to ease stress and pressure if an emergency occurs.

Your pets may need help in these situations:

Prepare for your pets
  • 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 are advised to prepare to evacuate, it's best to have your pets held in the house or in their carry cages early.
  • If you need to evacuate, you must take your pets. They’re part of your family and it’s not okay to leave them behind. If it’s not safe for you to stay, it’s not safe for them or those who may try and rescue them.
  • It's good to have a plan for a safe house or animal shelter that you and your pets (or just your pets) can go to.