New Zealand ShakeOut, our national earthquake drill and tsunami hīkoi, is taking place Thursday 28 October 2021 at 9:30am.

Taking part is a great way for everyone in your organisation to learn 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 organisation can do to get ready for an emergency. 

  • Identify safe places to Drop, Cover and Hold and practise the drill with your staff.
  • Check if your busines or organisation is in a tsunami evacuation zone. Make plans for a tsunami hīkoi if you are in a coastal area.
  • Your staff should know what to do in an emergency at work. Get staff together to discuss the drill and what might happen in a real emergency. 
  • 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.
  • Check that your organisation has a business continuity plan and an emergency plan. A business continuity plan is different from an emergency plan. Emergency plans cover events like natural disasters. Business continuity plans cover how you’ll get core parts of your business up and running again.

Sign up for ShakeOut

Sign up to take part in New Zealand ShakeOut 2021 and you're in to win one of five Civil Defence wheelie bins.

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 Two men at their tsunami evacuation point

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. You could:

  • use a bell, whistle or alarm
  • play the New Zealand ShakeOut Announcement over your PA system
  • shout “EARTHQUAKE DRILL”, or
  • tune in to our Facebook 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.

 Megaphone icon

Use this New Zealand ShakeOut audio announcement to start your 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:

  • Talk with staff and colleagues about what you learned.
  • Make changes to your business/organisation's emergency plan or business continuity plan.
  • Find out what other actions you can take to make your business more prepared.
  • Encourage staff to make a Household Emergency Plan at home.
  • Share your ShakeOut photos, videos and stories on social media.

Share the ShakeOut

It’s important that your staff, customers and clients know what to do on drill day as well. You never know who’s going to be around in an emergency.


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

Use this guide on what to include in your emergency planning from

Find advice for looking after staff after in an emergency.

Have staff fill in a personal workplace emergency plan to plan for an emergency during work hours.

personal-workplace-emergency-plan-en-nov20.docx docx 181 KB
personal-workplace-emergency-plan-en-nov20.pdf pdf 221 KB logo

Continuity and contingency planning is about being prepared for all types of disruptions. Use the step-by-step guide to get your plan sorted. It’s vital to your business’s survival.

Drop, Cover, Hold

Download and share this factsheet on what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

drop-cover-earthquake-happens-fact-en-dec16.pdf pdf 2 MB
Drop, Cover and Hold in Te Reo Māori

Download and share this factsheet in Te Reo Māori on what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

drop-cover-earthquake-happens-fact-mi-jan17.pdf pdf 117 KB
If an earthquake is Long or Strong, Get Gone

Download and share this factsheet in English about what to do before, during and after a tsunami.

long-strong-earthquake-fact-en-dec16.pdf pdf 1.9 MB
If an earthquake is  Long or Strong, Get Gone in Te Reo Māori

Download and share this factsheet in Te Reo Māori about what to do before, during and after a tsunami.

long-strong-earthquake-fact-mi-jan17.pdf pdf 104 KB
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