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Staying Safe in Storms and Flooding

Rain on a roof

Staying Safe in Storms and Flooding

19 Aug

SEVERE WEATHER WARNING: ISSUED BY MetService AT 9:06 am 18-Jan-2017

Significant heavy rain for the South Island West Coast and Canterbury Headwaters. Severe northwest gales for eastern parts of central New Zealand and severe southwest gales in the far south. Read more at:

In times of flooding and stormy weather, it’s important to know how to keep yourself and your family safe before, during and after floods and storms.

Particularly if you live near a river, heavy rain can pose serious threats – even if the river has substantial banks. Rivers can rise quickly, especially if sourced from nearby valleys, hills and mountains. Storms bring wind – which can be just as dangerous as rain and flooding. High winds can rip trees from the ground and send other debris into houses and buildings.

Here are some tips on keeping safe before, during and after storms and flooding:


  • Listen to your local radio and keep informed of weather patterns. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
  • Know where high ground is and how to get to it safely. If floods are threatening, move valuables, cars livestock and pets, chemicals and electrical items to higher ground or high shelves. Consider placing sand bags around your home.
  • If authorities advise it, turn off power and gas at the mains.
  • Have a household emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  • If high winds are forecast, secure any loose objects or move them indoors.
  • If high winds are forecast, secure any loose objects or move them indoors.
  • Have important documents (such as your insurance policies) in case you have to evacuate.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and clean storage containers with water in case the supply is contaminated.


  • Keep up to date with developments on your local radio, Metservice or Civil Defence.
  • Do not drive or walk about unless absolutely necessary. Just 60cm of fast moving water can carry a car away and half that height will cause damage – even if the water is still.
  • If it is windy, stay away from windows and close the curtains to prevent glass spreading if the window is smashed.
  • If conditions are severe, be prepared to leave in a hurry.
  • Unplug electrical devices to prevent them from surges.


  • Only go outside when you’re sure it’s safe to.
  • Check around thoroughly for damage. Take photos and inform your insurance company and landlord (if applicable).
  • Only use tap water when authorities have declared it safe.
  • Check on your family and neighbours to see they’re alright.
  • If you have any contact with flood water, wash with warm water and anti-bacterial soap.
  • Keep children and pets away from affected areas.
  • If anyone is injured or becomes unwell, seek medical attention straight away.

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