New Zealand ShakeOut is our national earthquake drill and tsunami hīkoi.

Taking part is a great way for everyone in your organisation to learn, and practise, the right actions to take before, during and after an earthquake and tsunami.

Why prepare your business?

An emergency plan is a health and safety requirement. Not having one is a big risk for your business and the people in it.

Being prepared for an emergency or disaster can:

  • save lives and prevent harm,
  • help businesses to continue trading through hardship,
  • give staff and owners confidence,
  • protect equipment and premises, and
  • quickly get businesses running again.

Get ready

Leading up to ShakeOut, there are lot's of things your business or organisation can do to get ready for an emergency. 

  • Identify safe places to Drop, Cover and Hold such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall and practise the Drop, Cover and Hold drill with your staff.

    Check to see if your business or organisation is in a tsunami evacuation zone and practise your tsunami hīkoi so everyone knows where to go.

  • Your staff should know what to do in an emergency at work. 

    Before your ShakeOut drill, get staff together to discuss the drill and what might happen in a real event. 

    Encourage staff to fill in a Personal Workplace Emergency Plan.

    If your staff have grab bags at work, get them to check that everything is up-to-date. If your staff don't have grab bags, provide them with some or encourage them to make their own.

  • In an emergency, you need to be able to contact your staff to check to see that they're okay, coordinate with them, and keep your business running. 

    You'll need to be able to contact people in all situations.

    • What if your IT system is down and you cannot get into your office?
    • What if the mobile network is down?
    • What if your building is evacuated and people don't have their cellphones?
    • Do your staff and their families have a plan for communicating in a crisis?

    Do you have alternative contact information or emergency contacts for when you can't reach someone, or landline or mobile networks are down?

    Contact lists need to be kept in multiple formats, both electronic and paper, and electronic versions should be backed up. Does anyone else in your organisation know where to find this information if you are not there?

    In an emergency, you may need to contact clients and customers as well. How will you get in touch with them and let them know what is happening?

  • Can you retrieve all of your important data in an emergency. New Zealand ShakeOut is a good time to review and ensure that important data is backed up and accessible from other locations. 

    Who in your business knows how to restore data? Testing data retrieval can help make sure that there are no issues or knowledge gaps when an emergency happens.

  • A business continuity plan is different from emergency planning. Emergency plans cover events like natural disasters, while business continuity plans cover how you’ll get core parts of your business up and running again.

    If you don't have a business continuity plan or are currently making or editing yours, and Resilient Organisations have guides and resources for you.

    If you do have a business continuity plan, New Zealand ShakeOut it a great opportunity to test it. Sit down with your staff and discuss some what-if scenarios. 

    • What if a critical piece of equipment was damaged?
    • What if we couldn't get to work or the building was damaged?
    • What if an emergency creates more hazards at your workplace?

Sign up for ShakeOut

Sign up to take part in New Zealand ShakeOut 2020 and you're in to win one of five large Civil Defence Cabinets.

Sign up
Photograph of a man doing the Drop, Cover and Hold drill under his office desk

Test your plans

On ShakeOut day, try testing some of your other plans as well.

  • After your drill, discuss with staff some what-if scenarios and what might happen next in a real emergency.
  • Practise restoring your data.
  • Try working without cellphones for an hour. How does it affect your work?

Doing the drill

ShakeOut is a self-run drill. You can start it in whatever way works for you. Use a bell, whistle or alarm, play the New Zealand ShakeOut Announcement over your PA system, shout “EARTHQUAKE DRILL” or tune in to our livestream.

Drop, Cover and Hold for 30–60 seconds:

  • DROP down on your hands and knees. This protects you from falling but lets you move if you need to.
  • COVER your head and neck (or your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk (if it is within a few steps of you). If there is no shelter nearby, cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
  • HOLD on to your shelter (or your position to protect your head and neck) until the shaking stops. If the shaking shifts your shelter around, move with it.

While you are doing the drill, take note of what might be happening around you in a real earthquake. Think about what you might need to do to prepare for a real earthquake.

This New Zealand ShakeOut audio announcement can be used to facilitate your Drop Cover and Hold earthquake drill. Play it through a speaker or PA so everyone knows the correct action to take.

shakeout-drill-day-audio-en-jul19.mp3 mp3 1.9 MB

After the drill

After your drill is complete:


Personal Workplace Emergency Plan

This personal workplace emergency plan will help you plan for an emergency during working hours.

personal-workplace-emergency-plan-en-nov20.docx docx 181 KB
personal-workplace-emergency-plan-en-nov20.pdf pdf 221 KB has a guide on what to include in your emergency planning, including identifying risks, developing emergency procedures, insurance cover and contacting and supporting staff.

Continuity and contingency planning is about being prepared for all types of disruptions, e.g. an earthquake, broken equipment or losing a supplier — and quickly getting back on your feet. Use the step-by-step guide to get your plan sorted. It’s vital to your business’s survival.

Shut Happens!

Follow the Shut Happens action task list to create contingency plans for your business.

Staffed or Stuffed - Creating Resilience Through your People - A Practical Guide for Organisations

Resilient Organisations has advice for looking after staff after an emergency, called Staffed or Stuffed.