Response: What to do if you think a landslide is about to happen
This page provides landslide response messages.
Landslides can occur without any warning signs. Be aware of the potential for landslides, particularly in the weeks after potential triggering events, such as heavy rainfall, earthquakes, and previous landslides.
Some warning signs before landslides occur:
- Small slips, rock falls, and sinking land, at the bottom of slopes.
- Sticking doors and window frames, which may mean the land is slowly moving under the house.
- Gaps where window frames are not fitting properly.
- Steps, decks, and verandas, moving or tilting away from the rest of the house.
- New cracks or bulges on the ground, road, footpath, retaining walls and other hard surfaces.
- Tilting trees, retaining walls, or fences.
If you see a landslide, move quickly out of its path and stay away from it. It is important to recognise the warning signs and act quickly.
If you learn or suspect that a landslide is occurring, or is about to occur in your area:
- Evacuate immediately if it is safe to do so. Seek higher ground outside the path of the landslide. Getting out of the path of a landslide or debris flow path is your best protection.
- If you cannot leave safely, move out of the path of the debris. The side of your house furthest from the landslide is likely to be the safest location within the property.
- Take your pets with you, and move livestock to safe paddocks, if you can do so without endangering yourself.
- Alert your neighbours. They may not be aware of the potential hazard. Advising them of a threat may save their lives. Help neighbours who need assistance to evacuate if you can do so without putting yourself in danger.
- Contact your local council or technical expert. Local council engineers or other geotechnical engineers are the people best able to assess the potential danger.
If you see a landslide, move quickly out of its path and stay away from it.
If lives are in danger, evacuate immediately and dial 111. Alert your neighbours if you can do so safely. If you can’t get outside, move away from the slide area and dial 111. Stay away from the landslide area. Further landslides may occur.
Check for injured and trapped persons and animals near the landslide, without entering the landslide area. Direct rescuers to their locations.
During a severe storm, if you are in an area susceptible to landslides, you should:
- Evacuate if you can - move to higher ground and out of the path of potential landslides. Staying out of the path of a landslide can save your life.
- If you cannot evacuate, move to an upper floor in your whare/home, or the side furthest from the potential slide area. This is likely to be the safest location within the whare/home.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest weather information from MetService, Te Ratonga Tirorangi, New Zealand’s National Weather Service. Pay attention to heavy rain warnings. Short bursts of heavy rain may be particularly dangerous, especially after longer periods of wet weather.
- Watch for signs of slope movement, such as:
- small slips, rock falls, subsidence or bulges at the bottom of slopes
- cracks in the ground, plaster, brick work, tiles, foundations, retaining walls, driveways and other hard surfaces
- tilting trees, walls or fences
- building movement, such as doors or windows that stick or jam
- outside fixtures, such as steps, that are pulling away from buildings.
- If you are near a stream or waterway, be alert to any sudden increase or decrease in water flow, and to a change from clear to muddy water. Such changes may indicate landslide activity upstream, so be prepared to move quickly. Save yourself, not your belongings.
- Be especially alert when driving. Embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides. Watch the road for collapsed areas, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of a possible debris flow.
- Ensure livestock are in safe paddocks if there is heavy rain. Consider precautionary evacuation of livestock if you believe there is a risk of landslide.