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Published: 2010-09-07 00:00:00

A recent Environment Waikato survey showing low levels of preparedness for a natural disaster is deeply concerning, particularly in light of the Canterbury earthquake, says the Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group.

Hamilton City residents were amongst those more likely to not be prepared.

“Only eight per cent of survey respondents were fully prepared for an emergency,” said Waikato coordinating executive group chair Langley Cavers.

“As a region we really need to do better, especially since the Canterbury earthquake shows how disaster can strike at any time.”

The survey results, received just last week, included answers to several questions designed to gauge Waikato residents’ preparedness for a civil defence emergency.

The information will be used to help develop a Waikato civil defence public education programme.

Just over 630 people from around Waikato were surveyed, with the results having a margin of error of 3.9 per cent.

Mr Cavers said that generally speaking there appeared to be reasonable knowledge of disasters that can affect people, with 76 per cent of respondents saying they have a good understanding of what the effects would be if a disaster struck their area.

While 68 per cent of residents said they had emergency items such as tinned food, torch and batteries, only 37 per cent reported having a household emergency survival plan and just 35 per cent said they had stored at least three litres of water for each household member for three days. Less than a third of those surveyed regularly updated their emergency survival items.

And only 8 per cent of respondents were fully prepared for an emergency. This includes:

  • having an emergency plan
  • having emergency items and water
  • regularly updating emergency survival items
  • having an emergency plan which includes what to do when not at home.

Overall figures included:

  • 13 per cent were fully prepared if at home
  • 16 per cent were semi-prepared with water and survival items at home.
  • 44 per cent not prepared but had some survival items at home
  • 27 per cent were not prepared at all having neither water nor survival items at home.

The survey showed those more likely to be fully prepared came from Taupo, Otorohanga and Thames-Coromandel, those who were semi-prepared were more likely to come from Waitomo or Franklin, while those more likely to not be prepared were Hamilton City residents.

Mr Cavers said the results highlight the urgent need for any not fully prepared Waikato residents to make a start now to be better equipped to deal with the impact of an emergency.

“Everyone should have a household emergency plan where they have worked out what they will do in various scenarios, safe places to shelter at home, where they’ll meet, and who’ll pick up the children and so on. Also, people should ensure they have the essential emergency items at home to be able to look after themselves for three days or more.

“We can’t afford to be complacent about this,” said Mr Cavers. “As the people of Canterbury can attest, disaster can strike when it’s least expected.”