Survival-kit lessons from Christchurch

I spent a bit of time in Christchurch in 2012, and every time I went I asked people what they had in their ‘get through‘ kit now that they’d lived through a series of earthquakes – including that devastating one in February 2011. Here are some of their tips and others I’ve come across.

1. Keep shoes/slippers by the bed – in case you have to get up and walk over broken glass in the night

2. Wear pajamas to bed or keep clothes nearby – in case you have to run out into the street at night time and don’t fancy being naked in public.

3. Have a whole lot of water stashed – for drinking, yes, but also for flushing the toilet, washing your hair, washing your clothes, washing the dishes, cleaning up the mess made by an earthquake splattering the contents of your fridge all over the floor and walls.

4. Fill the bathtub with water in case you need the water for washing etc later.

5. Have a couple of little LED lights at strategic points between the bedroom and the door to outside, so you can find your way in the dark.

6. Have head torches – good for cooking in the dark – and spare batteries for them.

7. Have a ‘run and go’ bag by the door with snacks, water, torch, something warm, pain killers and basic first aid kit – so you can be okay for a few hours or overnight.

8. Have a ‘last a few days’ kit in the garage with clothes for everyone, candles, matches, food, water, rubbish bags, torches, camping stove and cooking utensils, painkillers, prescription medicines, first aid kit and so on in case you get stranded and can’t get food/water/electricity for a few days.

9. Have heavy work gloves in case you need to move heavy concrete, masonry, tree branches etc afterwards.

10. Have a non-cordless phone in the house: one that won’t stop working when the power goes off. (You can buy old-style phones quite cheaply at retailers like Bunnings and Dick Smith.)

11. Keep your mobile phone running as long as possible: text rather than call, plug into laptop to charge, turn down screen brightness and turn off anything running in the background. Good ideas here.

12. Consider buying a wind-up mobile phone charger like this, or wind-up torch/radio/phone charger like this.

13. Have a battery-operated AM/FM radio with spare batteries in case you need to tune in to public safety information.

14. Print out a safety map for each member of your family showing where you will meet in an emergency.

Civil Defence’s Get Through website has more.