Safety Tips

In your emergency kit – “WARMTH / SHELTER”

When the earthquake struck just after midnight earlier this month, Warmth and Shelter was not the first thing that came to mind. Keeping myself safe during the shaking was top of mind.

Once the shaking stopped, and I knew I still had electricity and internet, my top priority was to start checking on my friends around Wellington (OK, I’ll admit it, before texting anyone I checked GEONET to see how big, and where!).

Had the power gone out, the most important thing I had to hand, in the moment, was my head torch, sitting in my bedside table drawer.  My next priority was getting dressed, ready to evacuate my apartment if required.

I always have a “go bag” packed and ready, but since I had just recently moved, I had to find it.

As I previously talked about (, for me, Warmth/Shelter is the one thing I would make sure I had, IF I could only have one thing.

Warmth and shelter mean different things to different people, and like everything in your kit, where you are, time of year, time of day and the weather.

If you are safe at home, or in the office, then a tarpaulin and duct tape can be really usefully for covering up broken windows.  Keeping out wind and rain is a big plus if you are remaining.

Once you are out and about, layers of clothing are the best way to stay warm, with an outside layer that is able to keep you dry, and protect you from the wind.

Different types of blankets are good to have too.  My ‘get away’ kit has survival blankets, which are lightweight and small, but able to keep you warm in an emergency.  A survival blanket reflects heat back into a person, so are only useful if the person you are covering still has some body heat to reflect.

Hypothermia kills; most of us would have experienced becoming so cold that we shiver.  Shivering is the bodies way of trying to generate heat.  It is important to remember that if someone stops shivering, because they are very cold, this could be a very bad sign – the body giving up.  Survival blankets are good for helping reverse the effects of the cold, on someone in the early stages of hypothermia.

If you are with someone that has stopped shivering, rewarming them is urgent.  The best way to do this in an emergency situation could be to do a ‘double spooning’.  Put a warm bodied person in front of the person suffering from hypothermia, and one behind.  Cover them all in survival blankets, topped by other blankets, jackets or the like.

Staying as warm and dry as possible is important during and after a disaster.  It isn’t hard to do, it just takes a bit of preparation.

Stay safe, and be prepared!


I will be posting regularly, giving you tips and hints on how to prepare for what ever disaster or emergency you might face in your life.

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Dave Greenberg

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