What to do after an Emergency


  • Remember your personal safety - think before you act;
  • Keep calm and reassure others;
  • Turn off gas bottles, electricity and water;
  • Check on your family;
  • Listen to your radio for information and instructions;
  • Wear sensible clothing for the conditions (especially footwear) if going out;
  • Check on your neighbours;
  • Check and secure pets;
  • Avoid using the telephone except where life is at risk;
  • Do not go sightseeing — STAY HOME or close by.

Health rules after disasters

Listen to your radio for advice and information on ways to help yourself and others recover from the emergency. If it has been a major event, a number of the everyday services such as water, sewerage and rubbish collection will probably no longer be functioning.

To avoid a health hazard follow these simple instructions for:

Chemicals and fuels

As soon as possible after an emergency, check on the state of your garden chemicals, fuel and cleaning products in the house, garage and shed. Some of these, when spilled and mixed, can be dangerous to your health. If there has been a spillage, use rubber gloves to handle containers and dispose of them into separate plastic bags. If fumes are present it may be best to seek help to deal with the situation.

Emergency water storage

Every home and institution should have water stored in case of an emergency.

  • Obtain suitable plastic containers (20 litre food-grade containers are ideal, however milk or soft-drink containers can also be used).
  • Thoroughly clean and rinse, and fill with clean fresh water.
  • Write the date on the container, using a felt pen.
  • Store in a dark cupboard or room.
  • Check every six months (it should look bright and clear and not smell. Rinse, fill and re-date every year.

If you need to use the water, however are not comfortable that the water is still perfect (you may have left it more than 12 months), simply add some chlorine (a teaspoon of bleach from the kitchen cupboard per 20 litres is perfect), shake and leave for 30 minutes before using. If it tastes a bit flat, just add a dash of lemon juice.


If the electricity has failed, food stored in refrigerators and freezers will eventually spoil. You can make the most of your food supplies by using them in the correct order:

Fresh foods and food from the refrigerator should be used first however open the fridge as few times as possible.
Food from a cabinet freezer.
Food from a chest freezer - putting blankets over this type of freezer can help keep food colder for longer.
Canned and packet foods should be kept until last.

Food preparation

Hygiene becomes very important when preparing food after an emergency. Remember to ensure that water used in preparing and cooking food has been sterilised or boiled for several minutes to make it safe.

If using a barbecue or camping stove to cook food, use it outside to avoid harmful fumes in the house or accidental fire; the ambulance and fire services may be unable to respond if you have an accident — you may not even be able to contact them.

Rubbish collection

It may be some time before regular rubbish collection resumes. Bury bio-degradable rubbish in the garden, or store it in well- sealed bags in a place where animals are unable to get at them. Rubbish collection sites might be arranged; listen to your radio.

Sewage disposal

If the radio announcements say the sewerage system is not working do not use the toilet. It may end up in someone else’s home!

Until the system is fixed, dig a hole in the garden to store the bags that contain raw sewage until they can be collected for disposal. If using a caravan or boat portable toilet, empty these into plastic bags as well. A fly-proof cover will be needed over the hole.

Have disinfectant and water handy for washing hands. Remember, though, to use the water sparingly.

Water supply

Until you are told otherwise, regard all water as contaminated and do not use it until it has been sterilised/boiled for several minutes.

Turn off the power and water to your hot water cylinder and use the water sparingly.

Bottles and cans of drink are a good source of drinking fluids and will leave more water for cooking and hygiene.

You may be able to collect rainwater from the roof if it rains. Do not collect the initial water coming off the roof as it may contain foreign matter.