Earthquake advice from those who know

9:08 pm on 17 November 2016

As the people of North Canterbury clean up their homes and businesses, RNZ asked those who have lived through earthquakes for their advice on how to get through.

One of the most immediate issues is the lack of clean water. Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey told Morning Report people needed to conserve water, and to boil the water they did get, if they were able to.

If they couldn't boil water, they could treat it with bleach.

"A teaspoon of bleach in 10 litres of water will render it safe after about half an hour, so that's what we're encouraging them to do," Dr Humphrey said.

Sewerage is also a concern - as it was following the Christchurch quakes, necessitating some practical - if uncomfortable - solutions.

Beck Eleven has some novel advice on dealing with aftershocks.

Psychologist Sarb Johal has some advice on parenting through disasters.

He said earthquakes were scary things, and children looked to-grown ups to see how to react to a situation.

"It's a bit of responsibility for parents to be carrying. If you do find yourself feeling like that's a bit of an issue for you, I would say really do talk to people who might be able to help you."

Some practical advice from Robert Glennie on Facebook: "Quake humour is quite okay - you need to laugh," he said.

"Put latches on cupboard doors, as it will save you a lot of mess in a big one and stop things like cans of food becoming projectiles.

"Oh, and follow ECan advice on staying off riverbeds where landslide dam-burst floods can come down. There are several with such dams in their catchments at the moment."

EQC has a booklet on how to "quake-safe your home", as does Civil Defence.

Speaking of EQC, insurance is on a lot of people's minds too.

On Facebook, Michael Creed suggested taking a deep breath, photographing any damage for insurance and just start cleaning up as best you can.

The sooner you get some normality back, the better.

An associate at Morrison Kent, John Goddard, said the first thing to do was to make a claim - both to EQC and to your insurer. There could be three potential claims, one for contents, one for damage to houses, and one for land damage. There could also be separate claims for each earthquake.

Lawyer John Goddard

Lawyer John Goddard Photo: RNZ/Teresa Cowie

As well as taking photos, Mr Goddard suggested taking notes or recording conversations with EQC and insurers.

And he said if repairs were significant, they should go through the full council consent process - and fees for that, and for the costs of things like project managers, should be included in insurance settlements.

As well as the practical, a lot of people had advice for looking after each other, and themselves.

On Facebook, Teiny Winehausen suggested using media only to find out vital information ie road openings, water supply points, etc "to avoid being overwhelmed by devastation imagery".

Chris Knight offered this advice: "Talk to each other, check on your family and friends, share your experiences, don't be afraid to ask for help."

"Celebrate small things, " Janice Lauriston McKay said.

"Be kind to each other. Do fun little things & laugh. Look after yourself so you can look after others. It will be full of ups and down but over time it will get easier! Remember you are survivors!"

And if all else fails, there's always this option.

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