More than 660,000 Kiwis sign up to earthquake, tsunami drill

More than 660,000 Kiwis nationwide have signed up for the country's annual earthquake drill and tsunami hikoi on Thursday.

The 'ShakeOut 2020' drill will take place at 9:30am, providing Kiwis with an opportunity to practice the 'Drop, Cover, and Hold' actions encouraged during an earthquake and their fastest evacuation route in case of a tsunami. 

This year's drill has a focus on children and young people and will be hosted by Matata Public School in the Bay of Plenty. Kiwis can follow along via a livestream on the NZ Civil Defence Facebook page. 

With most of New Zealand being vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black said knowing the correct actions is important. 

"The idea is that you are trying to protect your body when the shaking starts and limit any chance that you or your family could be injured. When you drop down, it's about the fact that the shaking is actually moving you and you are more likely to fall over if you are still standing," she told The AM Show.

"The cover is covering your head and neck by getting down and holding onto something, so a chair leg or something like that where actually you can protect yourself and hold on.

"It is the best action to take and it is really easy. This one time of year that we all do it together is an opportunity to practise it."

During an earthquake, Civil Defence says people inside a building don't have to leave straight away unless the structure is showing obvious signs of distress. Those in bed should stay there and cover their heads with a pillow to protect it from falling objects. If they're outside, avoid standing by buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines.

Kiwis at or near a beach should "get gone" if the quake is long or strong.

"The only warning you will get for a tsunami caused by a local earthquake is the earthquake itself".  

Those driving should pull over, stop and stay there with their seatbelts fastened until the shaking stops. Afterwards, drivers should avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

Stuart-Black said it's encouraged people drop below a table rather than stand in a doorframe as the door may not be the strongest part of the house. 

In the case of a tsunami, it's also suggested that people don't climb onto their roofs as buildings may not be able to withstand the force of the wave. 

"You should drop, cover and hold and then you should immediately evacuate and that's about keeping yourself out of any path of a tsunami. It is inland or uphill," she told The AM Show.

"The key here is not to drive actually because that immediately blocks roadways. You're better actually on foot or on bike and being able to get there as quickly as you can." 

You can sign up for the ShakeOut here and find out more about the correct actions in an earthquake here.