At Work

Disasters Happen! Learn what you need to get your business ready, look after your staff and reduce the time it takes your business to get back up and running.

Planning for emergency events is as easy as having a chat with your family, flatmates, friends and neighbours.

It is important you talk about what you would do if you had to leave home in a hurry, were made to stay or stuck at home, or couldn’t get home. You should also think about what you would do if you had no power, no water, no communication or you were ill.

Disasters can happen anytime, and you could be anywhere! Think about if you were at home, at work or the kids were at school.

  • Talk to your children about your emergency plan. Arrange for friends and family nearby to collect your children from school and let the school know. Decide on a place where you will all meet in the event of an emergency.
  • Decide who will help with food supplies if you and your household become unwell.
  • Don’t forget your pets and make sure they are a part of your plan. If you have a lifestyle block or a farm you need to make sure you have a plan for how you will care for them. 
  • Think about family, friends and neighbours with special needs. If you or a member of your family has a disability it is critical you develop a plan and a local support network. 
  • Get to know your neighbours and share your plan.

Check here to start making your plan.

Pro Tip!

Meet your neighbours. Talk to them about your plan and encourage them to make one too. Swap numbers and stay in touch. You never know when you will need your neighbours!

If you, a member of your family, friend or neighbour has mobility issues, hearing or visual impairments or intellectual disabilities, it is important you take extra time to plan for how you will respond to an emergency.

People who need assistance need to put in place a support network of people close to home or work who can provide support during an event.

  • Make a plan and tailor it to your needs. Think about what support you require.
  • Prepare a getaway kit. Consider the addition of medication and important equipment you may need. Include a pen and paper to assist you in communicating with others.
  • Stay Informed.

Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilites

Disaster Preparedness for people with Disabilities PDF

Disability Assist Dog Identification Tags

Disability Assist Dogs ID Tags PDF


Making your home safer will reduce the risk of damage during an emergency as well as allow you to stay in your home.

It is important that you learn about the disasters that might impact you and your home. For example, do you live in a flood prone area, tsunami evacuation zone, or an area vulnerable to earthquakes?

If you are in a flood prone area, it is important to plan and prepare for severe weather events. Stay informed, plan for your family and neighbours, pets and livestock. Think about storing precious items as high off the ground as possible and maybe even storing some sandbags.

If you are renting, it is in your landlord’s best interests if your home is still liveable after an event, so talk to them about making your home safer.

  • Sort out home and contents insurance. Most people are underinsured. Make sure you are insured for the right amount and keep copies of important insurance papers in a safe place.
  • Damaged utilities can be dangerous and also prevent you from staying in your home. Find out where your gas main valve, main power switch and water shut-off valve are and learn how to turn them off (you could mark them clearly so you can find them easily).
  • Fix, fasten, forget! Secure heavy items of furniture (such as bookcases and dressers) to the floor or wall. Visit EQC to find more about how to quake safe your home.

Find out more about the hazards you might face by visiting Know Your Hazards at the top of this page.

Pro Tip!

When developing your plan, think about being stuck at home and having no water, no power and no communication.

Prepare a getaway kit in case you have to leave your home in a hurry.

In an emergency you may have to leave your home in hurry, have you thought about where you might go? What you would take? What about pets? What about neighbours that might need your help?

Everyone should have a getaway bag with some warm clothes, a bottle of water, some snacks, medications and copies of important documents. Keep your torch, radio (a wind-up radio is a great option) and some cash handy, so you can grab them in a hurry.

  • Although you can purchase getaway kits it is easy to develop your own from a re-useable shopping bag or an old backpack you no longer need.
  • Daylight savings is a great time to check on your water bottles and expiry date of snacks in your getaway kit.
  • In the spring, instead of throwing away your unwanted or old warm clothes, put an old jacket into your getaway kit.
  • Take photocopies of your passport or drivers licence to add to your kit. Also don’t forget to take a list of important phone numbers such as friends and family, school, vet and doctors.
  • Some comfortable closed shoes are essential. In the event of an earthquake, there may be broken glass and debris that might pose a hazard.
  • Think about your pets. Make sure you keep your dog’s lead, or a cat crate handy in case you have to leave in a hurry and add some extra water and pet snacks into your kit. Make sure your pets have identity tags with your telephone number in case they get separated from you.

Check here for ideas of what to include in your kit.

Pro Tip!

Before it is time to renew your prescription, put some of your medication aside for your kit. Don’t forget to check the expiry dates.

Did you know that New Zealand has one of the highest companion animal ownership rates in the world with over 65% of households having one or more pets?

We know New Zealanders love their animals and that’s why it is important to think about how you will look after your pets during an emergency.

  • Make a pet plan. If you leave your pet behind they may get lost or injured, or worse. You might ask neighbours or other pet owners close by to help.
  • Prepare a getaway kit specifically for your pet. Include important information like contact numbers (for your vet, kennels and catteries or pet friendly hotels), copies of medical and vaccination records. Don’t forget collars and leads and familiar items such as favourite toys or blanket. Keep a crate or pet carrier handy.
  • Microchip your pet and keep your information updated. Make sure your cat or dog has an identity tag.
  • Stay Informed. It is important you know where you will get information during an event.

Check here for some more advice on preparing animals for an emergency from MPI.

Pro Tip!

Take a photo of you and your pet. On the reverse write down the species, breed, age, sex, distinguishing features, microchip number etc. This will help you prove pet ownership and allow others to assist you should you and your pet become separated.

50% of New Zealand’s land mass is occupied by animals or high stick density, and over 42% of our exports are animal derived.

Your animals are your responsibility. You need to include them in your emergency planning and preparation. Failing to plan for them puts lives at risk when a disaster strikes (such as an earthquake or flood).

Running a business or enterprise keeps you busy, but you should plan for disruption, whether a large earthquake, small power outage, or a disease outbreak or pandemic.

You should consider:

  • What essential goods and services you rely on.
  • How you will manage any disruption to supply.
  • How you will manage with high numbers of staff absence over an extended period.
  • How you can implement alternative work practices in your workplace.
  • What services will need additional support to meet any surge in demand.
  • Storing information in a cloud environment so that if your internal system goes down, you can still have access to important information.

There are a range of resources available to support you developing a plan for your business, but be sure to include your staff so that you can continue to operate or get your business back up a running as soon as possible. We encourage you to take a look at the resources below and find the best one to suit your business needs.

Resilient Organisations (ResOrgs) is a research and consulting group focused on helping businesses to thrive. There are a range of resources including booklets, case studies and videos to support your planning.


Pro Tip!

As a business it is critical you know and understand your local hazards so that you can include hazard specific planning into your business continuity plan.

Resilient Business is an online platform developed by the Auckland Council, where you can learn more about business resilience, develop a tailored plan and use a self-assessment tool to check your resilience.

Staff are critical to the continuity of your business and a ‘people first’ approach pays dividends. When a disaster strikes you will need your staff to go the extra mile and you will need to support them.

Following a disaster your business may be able to get back up and running, but will your staff? Research shows that businesses that plan for the protection of their people are more likely to survive and recover faster from disasters.

Are your staff prepared at work? Do they know what to do and where to go? Involving staff in the development of plans is important, not only to embed the planning in your organisation but also to ensure better engagement and more ideas!

  • It is essential that as an organisation you practice your plans and carry out drills such as earthquake and evacuation drills. Regularly practicing drills can make sure staff remain familiar with emergency procedures.
  • Consider how you can protect your workers from injury and reduce the risk of the spread of infectious diseases in the workplace.
  • Encouraging your staff to be prepared at home for the sake of themselves and their families is not only good business practice but can help to ensure that staff are able to come back to work. Promote hazard awareness and preparedness around the office through posters and internal communication/intranet.
  • Make sure you and your staff know where to get information during an event. If you are issuing work phones, check that the phones are compatible to receive Emergency Mobile Alerts (EMA). Details on EMAs are available at the Stay Informed link at the bottom of the page or on the Get Ready website.
Pro Tip!

The Resilient Organisations resource ‘Staffed or Stuffed’ has some great ideas on supporting business resilience through your people.

Engage with staff to complete individual workplace emergency plans.

A recovery plan will help you respond effectively if an incident or crisis affects your business. It aims to shorten your recovery time and minimise losses.

Your recovery plan contains information relating to planning for recovery, as well as the resumption of critical business activities after a crisis has occurred. It also outlines the time frame in which you can realistically expect to resume usual business operations.

Developing a recovery plan gives you a chance to consider how you will get your business back on track if you do experience a crisis. It should include:

  • Strategies to recover your business activities in the quickest possible time
  • A description of key resources, equipment and staff required to recover your operations
  • Your recovery time objects
  • A checklist you can use after a crisis has passed and it is safe to return to your premises
Pro Tip!

Ensure you check that you are adequately insured and after an event, start the insurance claim process early.

There are a number of publications that can support you in the development of these plans.

Education facilities are required under the Education Act to have an emergency plan for how they will manage when a disaster happens. It is important you find out about the plan and support your school community to be better prepared.

Talking to kids about emergencies and involving them in your family planning is important. Talk to them in a honest but not scary way about what might happen in an emergency, what you can all do to stay safe and well, and what your plan is for if you can’t get home. The more involved they are, the less scared they will be if an emergency does happen.

  • Talk to your children about the correct action to take during an earthquake (Drop, Cover, Hold) and practise drills as a family. Talk to them about what they learn in schools about natural hazards and preparedness.
  • Find out about the school’s emergency plan. Where will they evacuate to? Where will you pick your children up from? Next time the school practices their tsunami or earthquake drill, consider taking part so you become more familiar with the school plan.
  • Identify friends and family nearby to the school who may be able to collect the kids if you are stuck and cannot reach your children. Make sure you give the school or daycare a list of three people who can pick up the kids if you can’t get there.
  • Make a household emergency plan and consider if something happened during work or school hours what you would do.
  • If your children are older and have cell phones or access to social media, make sure they register for text alerts and follow BOPCivilDefence on Facebook or Twitter. 
  • If you have pre-schoolers, use the resource 'Turtle Safe' to teach them what to do if an earthquake occurs. Use the online resource 'What’s the plan Stan' for Primary school aged kids to find out more about hazards and how to be prepared. Go through the resource as a family and all learn together!        
Pro Tip!

Check with the school what their emergency plans are and ensure you know their meeting places.

There are a range of resources available to support educators at all levels to deliver hazard awareness and preparedness as part of the curriculum.

There are a vast number of hazard awareness and preparedness teaching resources that have been prepared to support students in their learning, however, it is important to consider your local hazards and context. A resource to better understand our local hazards is the Bay of Plenty Regional Council BayHazards viewer, an interactive map. Some of the resources available are linked below.

What's the Plan, Stan?
Pro Tip!

Think about how you can encourage the students to get involved and implement the emergency plan at school.

If you have pre-schoolers, use the resource 'Turtle Safe' to teach them what to do if an earthquake occurs. Use the online resource 'What’s the plan Stan' for Primary school aged kids to find out more about hazards and how to be prepared. Go through the resource as a class and all learn together!

The Bay of Plenty is a pretty hazardous region! We have an active volcano on our doorstep, a lot of active fault lines that run across our district leaving us vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunami, as well as the usual risks of severe weather, including flooding and storms.

We know it is really important for everyone to know and understand their hazards, as well as be better prepared, so here are some useful places you can go to find out more information:

  • To help you learn about your local hazards, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has developed an interactive map called BayHazards. Find where you live and see what hazards are a risk to you and to your family.
  • Learn more about specific hazards on our home page.
  • It is important that you think about emergencies and talk about it with your family. Think about what you would do if you had to leave home in a hurry, were stuck at home or couldn’t get home. Also, what would you do if there was no power, no water and no phone or internet.


BOPRC Bay Hazards Viewer

BayHazards (2023 Rebuild) - Bay of Plenty Natural Hazards Viewer (

Pro Tip!

Do you know the contact numbers of family members and emergency services? If you phone battery has no charge you won't have access to these numbers. Make sure you keep important contact numbers written down.

Knowing your neighbours is so much more important that we can ever imagine. Being socially connected has many benefits but especially in your ability to get through disasters.

When disasters happens you will first check yourself and your surroundings, then your family and then your neighbours. Here’s a few reasons you should get to know your neighbours.

People who are socially connected;

  • Have better mental health and reduced levels of depression as they feel they have support and friendship.
  • Have better access to resources. You can borrow chainsaws, lawnmowers, torches and barbeques, which is handy in an emergency.
  • Have better access to information. Word of mouth is the best and fastest way of spreading information and widenening your social network. The more access to information you have, be it social media or huddling around the car radio during an emergency, the better informed you will be.
  • Are healthier, partly as a result of having more access to resources, information and better mental health (as mentioned before).
  • Contribute more to their community because they have a sense of belonging and purpose. They care more about the environment and their neighbourhood.
Pro Tip!

Join a Neighbourhood Support Group. If there isn’t a street coordinator in your street, why not become one? Click here to check it out.

Knowing your neighbours has the effect of reducing crime because you are more aware of your neighbour's property and you can keep an eye on things for each other. Neighbourhood Support is a great way to get to know your neighbours and find out about news and events in your community.

When a disaster strikes, it is the community who are the first responders.

Help for people in need comes mostly from neighbours, existing community groups, faith-based organisations and volunteer organisations, such as Neighbourhood Support, Lions, Rotary, Salvation Army, Residents Association, sports clubs and so on.

No one knows a community better than the people that live and work in it and this is why community and community champions (those people who have taken the lead in local community engagement) must come together to develop a Community Response Plan, as it cannot be developed in isolation.

A community response plan covers how your community plans to self-activate and respond in the initial stages of a large scale emergency. If robust processes and systems are working well then the civil defence response will support what is already underway, not override the community response.

The plan is developed by community champions and/ or representatives of stakeholder organisations such as local schools, businesses, Neighbourhood Support, Lions, Residents Associations and so on.

A working party is established with the goal of completing the planning process and maintaining the plan, while also building and strengthening relationships. Ownership of the plan remains with the community, represented by the stakeholder group.

It’s important to understand that this is a continuous process, that the plan is a living document that will need to be reviewed regularly, as opposed to just sitting on a bookshelf! Your Community Response team will need to meet regularly and discuss your response as well as how you can promote preparedness in the community.

For more information on how Emergency Management Bay of Plenty can support your community to develop a plan contact us on

Pro Tip!

Find out if your community already has a Community Response Plan. If the answer is no, talk with your community leaders and establish a group to begin planning.

Community Guides are short information sheets developed by the Community Response Teams that outline the hazards in the area along with Flood or Tsunami evacuation maps.  These maps also show the locations of nominated buildings within the community where information and support can be given during an emergency.  Usually the Community Response Team develops this guide as a first step to engaging with the wider community to develop their response plan. Each household should have a copy of this guide.

Kia Tu Mataara
Stand ready be vigilant

The marae is central to the Māori way of life. It is the focal point for Māori who share relationships with one another as whānau, hapū, and iwi. It is central meeting place to discuss and debate matters of significance, to celebrate important occasions and also bid farewell to those who have passed away.

During an emergency, the marae can become a hub supporting the Māori community, and at the discretion of the Marae Committee, a place for members of the community to gather.  In civil defence emergencies, marae can act as community led centres that can provide for immediate needs like shelter, overnight accommodation, catering facilities, ablutions and holistic support.

The Bay of Plenty Civil Defence and Emergency Management support marae in the region to develop Marae Preparedness Plans through workshops and meetings. These workshops and meetings:

  • Raise awareness of the risks and hazards faced by your marae community so it can be better prepared
  • Build a stronger relationship with Civil Defence and responding agencies

There are a range of resources including a template and res (also in Te Reo Māori) to support iwi to develop plans.

Pro Tip!

Download the Marae Emergency Preparedness Plan and work with your marae and the community and begin developing a plan.

If your iwi or runganga are interested in undertaking marae emergency preparedness planning, contact us at

Volunteer during 'peacetime'

Becoming part of a volunteer organisation when there is no current emergency is one of the best ways to help if you want to be involved during an emergency response. 

There are health and safety requirements and other restrictions on untrained volunteers during an official response. But many organisations offer training and support that could let you play an active part during an emergency. 

Some examples of organisations that regularly recruit volunteers and support a civil defence response are Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), Red Cross, St. John Ambulance Service, Lions and Rotary clubs.



Pro Tip!

Civil Defence is more than sandbags and high-vis vests. You may have skills that would suit other activities like supporting the welfare of affected people, logistic support (like making deliveries or moving people), phone support and more. See what's available- you might be surprised!


Red Cross are looking for looking for highly committed, multi-skilled volunteers for our Disaster Welfare Support Team in Rotorua and Tauranga.

Team trains regularly in Greerton (Tauranga) and Ohinemutu (Rotorua).

Red Cross disaster response teams are made up of highly committed, multi-skilled emergency service volunteers. They have a wide variety of professional backgrounds, delivering essential services during and immediately following a disaster. 

Team members train regularly. They will mostly train and respond to emergencies in their local area, but may travel throughout New Zealand supporting other Red Cross teams when needed. Our response teams are trained in a variety of skills, from first aid to ground-based rescue, which benefit both themselves and the New Zealand community.

You'll find our teams in our state-of-the-art disaster welfare and support vehicles, providing support and disaster services to affected communities. You’ll find them in Civil Defence centres – they’re the friendly faces looking after you and your family – and you’ll find them on the ground, mucking in and getting on with the job.

New Zealand Red Cross requires its people – employees, members and those that volunteer their time – to be fully vaccinated. If you are interested in volunteering for New Zealand Red Cross you will need to provide your ‘My vaccine Pass’ when required. This is important as we place our people at the heart of everything we do, ensuring we take steps to prioritise health, safety and well-being.