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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas Cheer with 'What's the Plan Stan?'

December 2011 has arrived and yes most if not all of you are thinking - where did the year go.

It's that time when we get excited about the holidays, Christmas get-togethers and a gear down from the year, but also there's a part which is just dreading the chaotic scramble and madness from people flocking to do their shopping.  And people get so stressed and wound up.  Go on, do it all online it's so much easier and they deliver too.

So, it just so happened that I was in the CBD during the Farmers Santa Parade recently. Having encountered the road blocks, I got caught up in the traditional Christmas cheer that is hard to avoid during this time of year. Being a good sport, I too was one cheering for the impressive floats which have vastly improved over the years since my early memory of the parade when I was about five years old.  Not bad at all Farmers and other stakeholders that were involved including Auckland Council.  To top it all off, they offered a free entertainment show for the kids, free candyfloss and even photos superimposed on a mock front page of a newspaper which headlined 'Santa's Stowaways.'

But wait, what impressed me the most was not Santa and his broken finger, but this...

A Get Ready, Get Thru booth smack bang in the middle of Aotea Square!

Auckland Council in partnership with Civil Defence and Emergency Management had set up an excellent information booth to raise awareness on preparedness for natural disasters.  Magnificent.  The effort to raise awareness on the day was great. I was actually standing in the line for a hotdog and was approached by a lady from the booth who then gave me an information pack.  They came to me.  Great stuff. Everyone in the vicinity got one. 

The theme for the information in the bag was targeted at children and was called: 'What's the Plan Stan?' with a picture of a cute dog all geared up as a disaster management officer.  It was designed as a resource for schools.

Great catchy branding!  I'm so excited, I'm now going to share what was in the bag.  It contained an educational activity book on the different types of natural disasters, stickers of Stan the dog, a balloon of Stan the dog and a vital brochure which states in 4 steps 'how to get ready.'

The brochure clearly outlined:

1.     Learn about the disasters that can affect you.
2.     Create and practise a household emergency plan.
3.     Assemble and maintain emergency survival items.
4.     Have a getaway kit in case you have to leave in a hurry.

Great stuff!  Every household needs one.

You can find out more at the following link:

If you get a chance, please check it out!

Wishing everybody a merry Christmas and a safe new year 2012...

and those not celebrating Christmas, happy holidays...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

What's in your emergency kit?

The basics in your survival kit is set out clearly by Civil Defence - Get Ready, Get Thru.  These items include the following:

  • torches;
  • portable battery powered radio;
  • non-perishable food (enough for 3 days or more) - canned food, dried food, long-life milk, special dietary requirements;
  • can opener (manual);
  • water (at least 3 litres per person per day);
  • plastic storage containers and plastic bags;
  • emergency toilet: plastic pail, toilet paper, large rubbish bags;
  • first aid kit or items to top up kit;
  • essential medicines;
  • wind and waterproof clothing;
  • sun hats, sunscreen, insect repellant;
  • strong outdoor shoes;
  • blankets or sleeping bags;
  • face and dust masks;
  • primus or gas barbeque;
  • baby's emergency items: food, formula and drink, change of clothing and nappies;
  • pet supplies;
  • toiletries; and 
  • getaway kit - a small bag with essential items in case you have to leave in a hurry.

These are the basic essentials.  But what about the personal items, such as family photographs, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, jewellery, etc, do you know where these are?  All in one place ready to grab in a few seconds?  Hopefully by now you have copied all your photos on to a memory stick.  The 8 GB memory storage sticks are great.  Any other treasures?  Of course you need to figure out now exactly what you would consider your treasure.  Everyone's treasure is personal.

However at the end of the day, in an actual emergency, a life takes precedence over your treasures.  That's universal law of common sense.

Lastly, I've stumbled upon a great choice of food to include in your kit.  It's the Cookie Time One Square Meal bar.  Check it out, support 'New Zealand Made' - oh and they have chocolate now too!

So there you are, those of you reading this may not have your kit ready, but at least now you are thinking about it right and hey, that's a start.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Preparedness for the expected and unexpected....

What is your definition of preparedness?  Could you be more prepared for an expected event than an unexpected event?

Say for example just for definition sake, the RWC 2011 opening night was a planned expected event.  But just how ready was Auckland?

Without delving too much into the political arena, many would argue it began and started as a natural disaster (excuse the pun).  Others may argue a natural disaster because it was natural for the Auckland infrastructure to show areas of deficiency given the way it was set up to fail.  BTW I admire and have the utmost respect for those who starred on the 'accountability billboard' and became the face of 'faux pas' as a consequence of the opening night issues - despite the fact that it was not their 'faux pas' to own. Everyone knew it.  It showed great character and fortitude and it also revealed the goodies and the baddies. Oops is this getting political, hard not to in Auckland...back to the issue.

In the end you could say it was an unexpected event due to the unexpected number of people who turned up on the night.  Who would have thought to factor in the perfect hot spring day and the Tongan patriotic fanatical support which expectedly contributed to a high fan turnout.  Therefore Auckland, could you even be prepared for an expected event?

An example of an unexpected event (slightly geographically off course) is the recent grounding of the container vessel Rena off the coast of Tauranga.

This resulted in a natural disaster of the highest degree with regard to the damage to the ecological systems and natural environment, not to mention the animal life from the oil. You could say it was an 'expected unexpected' as there are laws and legislation in this country to address such disaster.  But despite this the laws were not adequate to counter such an event.  Unexpected, expected, call it what you will, even NZ was not prepared.

Key message for today:  Expected or unexpected, can you be ever be fully prepared for any event.  The answer is no.  However, we must do something and not nothing.  With all the technology and information at our fingertips and disposal, we must try our utmost best to be prepared.  And lastly we must look at history and past events to learn from, to use for our future plans, for preparedness for a natural disaster.

Come on people, must we rely on Piri to do everything?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Tornado in Avondale???!!!

And around the corner a sleeping tornado woke up in the sleepy suburb of Avondale! Yes, west of Auckland on Sunday afternoon, 11 September 2011 at approximately 1 pm. In and around Canal Road, the west got a taste, as did the north a few months back, of the devastation a tornado could cause within seconds. Luckily there were no fatalities and the damage was considerably less than that of the one in North Shore, nonetheless, damage was done to homes, much to the bewilderment of locals. Many were left wondering...but why?  Pointless damage mother nature!  Why was she so upset???

Here is a photo taken on Canal Road courtesy of NZ Herald - Richard Robinson.

I pray a tornado will never visit my street and suburb any time soon.

Snow in Auckland??!!!!

OK, I know I've been missing in action for a couple of months, for great reason of course that's another story, but what's up Auckland with the snow recently????  I know this is a delayed reaction, still reeling in utter shock, like a stunned mullet....I myself was indoors high up in a building oblivious to the freakish weather having decided the biting cold wind was just not for me.  I didn't realise the extent of the sprinkle of white flakes until watching the news that evening.  Thank goodness I don't live in Wellington!

This photo was taken in Parnell courtesy of 3News taken by Ashley Abbott.

Another freakish natural phenomena which makes me think.....what's around the corner Auckland?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Tornadoes in North Shore???!!!

Gee what's going on? Definitely scary when there is a fatality in Albany from a freakish tornado earlier this month. The path tore through in a random direction of destruction showing no mercy for the locals. The weather reports did not indicate at all any impending natural disaster, though tornadoes are the hardest to predict. Later that same week it was forecasted in the weather news that it was tornado weather and for Aucklanders to be extra vigilant.  Though as I recall it was sunny and hot that day. Freaky.

Could you ever be truly ready for a natural disaster?

Here are a couple of photos taken at the Albany Mega Centre, taken during and after, courtesy of the NZ Herald - Brett Phibbs and Mike May.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Natural Disasters

My first ever blog will attempt not to scare people at all but to remind us in Auckland, and in all parts of the world where ever you are, not to become complacent.  I’m a thirty something Aucklander, who works full time, concerned about earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanic eruptions in light of what has happened recently in the world, in our own Christchurch, Japan and in places in the Pacific  It forced me to ask myself, am I ready for a natural disaster here in Auckland?  I would say probably not.  Just this week we had a momentary electricity outage for about 30 minutes. A strange feeling of panic engulfed me as I struggled to find even a lighter or matches (we don’t smoke) to light the candles.  In fact, we had to go outside to the gas barbeque, light that up to get a flame, to light the candles.  God help us if there was a real disaster.  I need to prepare myself better.  But where do I start?  Here's a start: Auckland Civil Defence or

I’ve asked a lot of my friends at work if they were ready.  About 90% said no, but had thought about it.  Others said they had a few bottles of bottled water in the garage.  Some said they would be getting an emergency kit ready soon.  If we think about it soon is probably too late. These results are dismal!  From the footage of the devastation seen on TV we must get ready.  Hey, I'm in no way predicting a disaster in Auckland anytime soon, but what have we got to lose by spending time to prepare ourselves just in case?

Lets be honest.  In Auckland or where ever you are in the world, how ready are you?