If you, or a member of your household, has disability or any special requirements that may affect your/their ability to cope in an emergency, follow these steps to get ready.

Steps to get ready

Talk about how an emergency could affect you

In an emergency, civil defence and emergency services will be busy helping the people who need them most. It’s up to you to ensure you get ready and that may mean having medical supplies or backup power systems, or doing whatever you need to get you through for three days or more.

How will an emergency affect you? What if the roads are closed; the shops are closed; there is no power, water, phone or internet; or you have to leave home in a hurry?

Talk with your household and your support network about the types of supplies you might need, the support you need and where you will go if you can’t stay at home.

Make a plan to get through an emergency.

Build a personal support network

Build a support team of people who will help you in an emergency, before you need them. The first people to assist in an emergency are often your neighbours, friends, caregivers and co-workers. They should be people who are regularly in the same area as you.

Get to know your neighboursShare contact details so you can get in touch if an emergency occurs. Tell them about your emergency plan and ask about their plans.

Do not depend on one person. That person may not be able to contact you or be available when you need them, so it is important that your support team includes other people.

Your support network can help you get ready for an emergency, e.g. by helping you with evaluating your home or workplace to make sure they are safe and suitable.

Build a support team at each place where you spend a large part of your day (work, home, school) and work with them to create a needs assessment. This can help your network members learn the best way to assist you and offer additional ideas for you to think about.

Practice your plan with your support network, including how you will Drop, Cover and Hold in an earthquake and how you will evacuate if you are in a tsunami or flood zone.

You need to agree on how you will contact each other during an emergency, including if internet and phone lines are down.

Arrange with your network to check on you immediately if civil defence and emergency services have advised people in your area to evacuate.

Make sure you have any special supplies you may need

In an emergency, roads and shops could be closed for days. Make sure you have supplies, including any medicine and special items you need, for at least seven days.

  • If your medical supplies need to be refrigerated, make sure you have an alternative power supply or refrigeration system.
  • Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability or health condition.
  • Work out what supplies you need. Have essential supplies in a grab bag in case you need to leave in a hurry.
  • If you are traveling, let a hotel or motel manager know of your requirements in case of an emergency.
  • Know where to go for assistance if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment, which may not operate in an emergency.
  • If you have special dietary requirements, or severe food allergies, make sure you have enough food for up to seven days. You should also include suitable snack food in your grab bag and make sure your meeting place is well stocked with long-lasting, suitable foods (this may be a friend or relative’s home that is out of a tsunami or flood zone).
  • If you have asthma or a respiratory disorder, make sure your grab bag has dust masks (rated P2 or N95). You may find that emergencies like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes make it harder to breathe.

Lock, Cover and Hold

If you use a walker or wheelchair, Lock, Cover and Hold.

LOCK your wheels (if applicable). If using a walker carefully get as low as possible.

Bend over and COVER your head and neck as best you can.

Then HOLD on until the shaking stops.

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Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities has been designed to help people who have physical, visual, auditory or cognitive disabilities to prepare for natural disasters.

If you have a hearing impairment

Make sure you have a way to find warnings, information and advice in an emergency

  • Radio and television stations will broadcast civil defence information and advice. Arrange for your personal support network to alert you to any warnings and to keep you informed. Contact your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group or council to find out what local warning systems are in place in your community.
  • Give a neighbour or someone in your support network a key to your house so they can alert you.
  • Install a warning system that is appropriate to your needs, such as an alarm with flashing strobe lights to get your attention. Replace the batteries every 12 months, for example at the beginning of daylight saving.
  • Put a writing pad, pencils and a torch with batteries in your grab bag so you can communicate with others.
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The National Emergency Management Agency has information on finding your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

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Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand have services available to assist deaf and hearing impaired people.

New Zealand Sign Language videos about hazards and what to do to be better prepared

Information on the hazards we face in New Zealand and advice on what to do to be better prepared is presented in New Zealand Sign Language and captions in a series of videos available on YouTube.

If you are blind or partially sighted

Be prepared if you have to evacuate

You may have to depend on others if you have to evacuate or go to an unfamiliar Civil Defence Centre.

  • If you have a guide dog, make sure you have a grab bag for them with food, medications, vaccination records, identification and harnesses.
  • Keep extra canes at home and in the workplace, even if you use a guide dog. Animals may become confused or disoriented in an emergency.
  • Trained service animals will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with your local council for more information.

Disability assist dogs

If you have an assistance dog, such as a guide dog, ensure it is certified with an authorised organisation, such as the Blind Foundation.

Get a Disability Assist Dog identification tag — a unique tag worn by a certified dog to provide easy identification of Disability Assist Dog status. Ensure the dog is wearing its identification tag at all times. The tag enables access for service dogs to civil defence centres in an emergency, and will also support rapid reunification if the dog and handler become separated.

Plan for your dog. Have a grab bag for your disability assist dog with food, medications, vaccination records, identification and harnesses.

Drop, Cover and Hold with a cane

If you use a cane, Drop, Cover and Hold or sit on a chair, bed, etc. and cover your head and neck with both hands.

Keep your cane near you so it can be used when the shaking stops.

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The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind provides some of its key learnings on earthquake preparedness and response for the blind or partially sighted.

blind-earthquake-info-en-jan16.docx docx 173 KB

Audio files about hazards and what to do to be better prepared

Information on the hazards we face in New Zealand and advice on what to do to be better prepared is available in audio format.

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Audio recordings for people with sight impairments on how to get ready for an emergency.

1-blind-introduction-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 139 KB
2-blind-get-ready-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 61 KB
3-blind-emergency-planning-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 811 KB
4-blind-survival-items-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 966 KB
5-blind-evacuation-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 732 KB
6-blind-disabilities-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 1.1 MB
7-blind-pets-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 445 KB
8-blind-storing-water-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 557 KB
9-0-blind-car-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 192 KB
9-1-blind-business-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 349 KB
9-2-blind-contact-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 226 KB
9-3-blind-radio-stations-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 186 KB
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Audio recordings for people with sight impairments on different types of hazards and what to do in an emergency.

1-blind-learn-about-disasters-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 32 KB
2-blind-flood-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 871 KB
3-blind-storms-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 1.4 MB
4-blind-earthquake-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 1.3 MB
5-blind-tsunami-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 1.4 MB
6-blind-volcano-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 1.3 MB
7-blind-landslide-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 686 KB
8-blind-other-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 198 KB
9-0-blind-emergency-checklist-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 783 KB
9-1-blind-emergency-plan-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 537 KB
9-2-blind-closing-announcement-audio-en-jan16.mp3 mp3 177 KB
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Listen to these audio clips in English about how to get prepared for an emergency.

spec-1-why-prepare-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 2.1 MB
spec-2-earthquake-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 2.6 MB
spec-3-evacuation-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 3.3 MB
spec-4-school-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 2.3 MB
spec-5-water-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 2.9 MB
spec-6-neighbours-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 2 MB
spec-7-tsunami-audio-en-oct19.wav wav 1.7 MB