Key Messages

This section provides a range of key messages for CDEM Groups to use before, during and after an event.

Information is the key to understanding hazards, managing risks, and for helping people to take the appropriate actions in an emergency. Information to the public needs to be timely, accurate and consistent.

CDEM Groups are encouraged to refer to the “Working from the same page: Consistent messages for CDEM” publication for detailed messaging on major hazards.

The following key messages can be used by CDEM Groups to build awareness and encourage people to take action to be prepared. The messages can be incorporated in a wide range of communication activities such as speeches and presentations, media interviews and releases, and in online and printed publications.

  1. Don’t think if, think when. The risks posed by New Zealand’s natural hazards are a fact of life. It is important that all New Zealanders know what to do before they have to do it to look after themselves and their loved ones.
  2. Disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods and storms can strike at any time, sometimes without warning. All disasters have the potential to cause disruption, damage property and take lives.
  3. In addition to natural hazards, technological development has created new hazards and risks. Reliance on lifeline utilities (power, gas, water, sewerage, communications and transport systems) leads to greater vulnerability in the event of their failure. Add to this the threats posed by hazardous substances and introduced organisms and terrorism and we have a range of hazards that can have a significant impact on our lives.
  4. Awareness of the hazards we face, and knowing what to do before, during and after a disaster can save lives, and reduce injury and damage to property.
  5. You could be on your own for 3 days, maybe more. In a major event while people can rely on emergency services and civil defence to do their job, the reality is that this demand is likely to be overwhelming for all agencies in the immediate aftermath of an event. It could be up to three days before essential services such as water, power and telecommunications are restored, and damaged infrastructure (roads, rail, bridges) repaired. This is when individuals and communities are most vulnerable and it is essential that you plan to be able to look after yourselves for at least three days.
  6. You can take some simple steps to be better prepared to reduce the impact of disasters when they happen. All individuals/families need to act now to protect loved ones/homes/community.
    • Develop a household emergency plan
    • An emergency survival kit is a must –
      • food and water for at least 3 days
      • radios, torches, batteries
      • alternative cooking if power and gas are disrupted
      • emergency clothing
      • essential medicines/first aid kit
      • supplies for babies
      • A Getaway Kit if you need to be evacuated
    • Know how to respond. This information is available in nine languages at
    • Know the civil defence warning siren when you hear it.
    • Know how to help others - being a good neighbour/people with special needs on the street/those who need support/treating the injured – first aid
    • Your local council is responsible for the management of Civil Defence. Locate your nearest council. [link to the locate your CD group page]
  7. Be prepared at work. Disasters do happen, but you can reduce the impact and hasten a return to normalcy through prior planning and committing to mitigation and preparedness activity. This can save time and money in the long term.
  8. If you are on the road, have a commuter kit. Most motorists are unprepared though they could potentially spend a long period stranded in a vehicle. Link to
  9. Who/what is civil defence? Correcting the myths
    • There isn’t an army of dedicated civil defence people trained, equipped and waiting to be deployed in an emergency
    • Civil defence is the coordinated response to a major event which involves the emergency services such as Police, Fire and ambulance, possibly Defence forces, working with the local authorities’ civil defence staff (and volunteers) to respond.
    • Civil defence is only activated when an event is beyond the capability of Police or Fire to deal with on their own and where a coordinated response is called for.