Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bleached as, bro.

Everyone always mentions using bleach to purify water in emergency situations.  Personally, I'd recommed only using bleach if you have no way to boil water - ie. as a last resort.

Boiling water is by far the easiest way to make water that has been contaminated by microrganisms safe for drinking.  There's not much you can do about chemical contaminants like heavy metals, unless you have some serious equipment, but for making water collected from your roof, from a creek, or the stored water that you forgot about for a few years drinkable, you just can't go past a good boil.

You don't even have to boil it for any length of time.  If you happen to have a thermometer, you could have your water at 70 degrees C for 30 minutes, and that would kill everything.  If you bring the temperature up to 85 degrees, then it's good after just 3 minutes.  So by the time you've actually got the water up to the boiling point, everything was probably dead a minute ago, and the time it takes to get the water back down to a temperature that's drinkable without burning your mouth, you've killed everything several times over.

However, if you haven't got any way to heat your water, you can resort to household bleach. 

BUT - and there's a definite "but" here.

Check the label on your bleach first!

Household bleach is typically between 5 percent and 6 percent chlorine.  Check how strong your particular brand is.   The table below gives the amounts of 5-6% chlorine bleach solution to add to how much water - it's really not a lot!

 Also, not all bleach is just bleach.   There's a massive proliferation of household cleaners out there, and they are not all the same.  Some of them contain dyes, some contain perfumes, and some contain detergents and other additives which can be seriously not good for you, even in the small amounts you'd be using.  Always read the label first, and if it's unclear as to what else has been added to the bleach, don't use it in your water.

Mix your plain unscented bleach with the water thoroughly and then leave it for at least 30 minutes before using (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold)  to let the approriate chemical reactions do their thing.

Another point to note - Cryptosporidium (a rather nasty diarrhea-causing pathogen) is highly resistant to chlorine, so if you are aware that it's a potential contaminant, boiling is always the best option.

Treating Water with a 5-6 Percent Liquid Chlorine Bleach Solution

Volume of Water to be TreatedTreating Clear/Cloudy Water:
Bleach Solution to Add
Treating Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water: Bleach Solution to Add
1 litres 3 drops5 drops
2 litres5 drops10 drops
4 litres1/8 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon
20 litres1/2 teaspoon1 teaspoon
40 litres1 teaspoon2 teaspoons

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where to from here?

On 2 July 2012, we launched the new Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO - the W is silent like in write).  Our continuing mission is to seek out new life and new civilisations... wait... that's the Enterprise...  WREMO's role is to manage Emergency Management services in support of the nine City, District, and Regional Councils of the Wellington region.  A bigger team with bigger impact.

This is pretty cool really, since disasters tend not to stop at the district boundary, and so much of our population lives in one part of the region and works in another. A shared approach gives us the ability to share our resources for the best effect, and get a much bigger bang for our buck.  What had been a somewhat piecemeal approach, now has the ability to put 20 staff to a particular project (instead of two), as well as helping to ensure that things are done more consistently across the region. 

Our new "homes" are in the earthquake-resistant Emergency Management building in Turnbull Street, Thorndon, Wellington, and another purpose built facility in Laings Road, Hutt City.  But staff continue to work throughout the region, operating from Emergency Management Offices at Porirua, Kapiti, and Masterton.

We're divided up into 3 business units:
 - Business & Development - they take care of the administrative, legislative and policy stuff.
 - Operations - they make sure that our Emergency Operations Centres will function during events, our standard operating procedures are all consistent, etc - making sure that we have response capability.
 - And then there's the biggest and most important team - Community Resilience.  99% of the time, we are not responding to an emergency, so it makes sense that most of our work is actually about building community resilience and capability now, so that when an event does happen, it's less likely to exceed the community's ability to cope - prevention and mitigation now, rather than being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
- There are also Area Coordinators looking after Porirua/Kapiti & Wairarapa.

So what does this all mean for Porirua EMO?

I now commute to Wellington everyday, so I guess I can't call myself the Porirua EMO anymore!
There is still a branch office in Porirua - you may want to ring ahead (237-5089) to check if anyone is in before knocking on the door.  Trevor Farmer, the area coordinator, will be splitting his time between the Kapiti & Porirua offices.

And what about the blog?   We've had a look at our social media, and done some consolidation.  I know that this blog usually ranks higher in Google searches for "Porirua emergency" than Porirua City Council's own website does, even though you should always be looking for official information from the official source - eg the council. Since I'm no longer part of Porirua City Council, this blog will no longer be a source for information during an activation - I'm likely to be too busy to update it  as I have a role managing the Porirua EOC during an activation, and once the PCC document management team have done their magic of downloading all the posts (since this was kind of an unofficial PCC site that needs to be retrievable for OIA requests), I'll steal back all the access, and it'll be mine, all mine again!  I'll try to keep posting emergency management stuff periodically, but it'll be on my own time.

To make it easier for our Public Information Management team during an event, I've also closed down the Porirua Emergency Management Facebook page.  Emergency information for Porirua will instead appear on the Porirua City Council Facebook page -!/pages/Porirua-City-Council/304937590918, and the front page of, as well as the Emergency Status page -  Same should probably happen for the other councils. Regional information can be found on the WREMO Facebook page - we hijacked WEMO's -  You'll find me there!

Kerry - no longer the Porirua EMO.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7.0 quake off coast of Opunake

Well, that certainly made my Tuesday evening a little more exciting than usual!

I would be mightily surprised if you didn't manage to notice that particular shake. lists it as magnitude 7.0, focal depth of 230km (so unlikely to generate a tsunami), and 60km south of Opunake, off the Taranaki Coast.

I've already had some reports from family & colleagues of things falling off shelves in Tawa & the Hutt Valley.  I'm quite chuffed that all my blu-tacking has done exactly what it was supposed to do, and I didn't lose anything but my dignity as I leapt from bed and was under the doorway before my brain caught up.

Please fill in the Felt Quake report in the link above, describe how the shaking felt in your area, and if you had any damage.

And if you are wondering how to better prepare yourself for events like that one, visit

Monday, June 25, 2012

Windy Tuesday too

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for strong winds on Tuesday morning.  Northwesterly gales are expected to develop tonight, with 120km/h gusts for a time (in the 9 hours from 1am to 10am) on Tuesday morning.

Winds of this strength can affect trees, powerlines, insecure structures and make driving hazardous.

I thought I'd placed things where the wind wasn't going to catch them for Saturday, but I found the lid for my BBQ halfway across the lawn, and my wheelie bin had been blown over.  I might get some bungy cords for keeping the lid on the BBQ, and tie my bin to something.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Windy weekend on the way

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for strong winds in the Wellington area for Saturday.

Northwest winds are expected to rise to gale force durning Saturday - from 3pm Saturday, expect severe gale force gusts of up to 120km/h.  Winds should ease late evening.

Winds of this strength have the ability to damage trees, powerlines and loose structures, and make driving hazardous - especially for high-sided vehicles and motorbikes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where's the water?

Recently we asked residents in Ascot Park, Aotea, Waitangirua and parts of Cannons Creek and Whitby to go easy on water use for a few days, or risk running out.

And here's why!

Stemhead Lane reservoir which usually supplies water to those areas is currently empty, as it is undergoing earthquake strengthening.  A bit of an inconvenience now to help prevent a major inconvenience in an earthquake.

Ascot Park reservoir is now feeding the suburbs normally serviced by the Stemhead Lane reservoir, as well as its usual area.  Initially, the demand on water from that reservoir meant that it was emptying faster than Greater Wellington Regional Council's bulk water network could refill it, so some areas may have experienced a drop in pressure, or loss of water. 

Some of this problem has been relieved by reducing the bulk supply to the other cities slightly, and feeding that extra into Porirua's network, but please continue to reduce your usage during the peak use times of 5pm-8pm and 6am-9am to help maintain the supply.

Work on the reservoir is scheduled to be completed in about a fortnight, so normal service should resume then.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Can workers refuse to work in earthquake-prone buildings?

From an article on

Unions are moving to add quake-safe workplaces to collective agreements - meaning that workers could go on strike if employers refuse to strengthen unsafe buildings.   This will definitely be an interesting development to follow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Go easy on the water!

Residents in Ascot Park, Aotea, Waitangirua and parts of Cannons Creek and Whitby are being asked to go easy on water use for the next couple of days, or risk running out.

Work to earthquake-prrof Porirua's main reservoir in Stemhead Lane, means that Ascot Park reservoir is temporarily providfing water for the two catchments.  Greater Wellington Regional Council has not been able to supply water quickly enought to keep up with the current demand on the Ascot Park reservoir.

Households in these areas need to be sparing of their water use as water pressure is already dropping.

Try not to use large quantities of water during the peak use times of 5pm-8pm and 6am-9am to avoid a loss of water.

The council is working to restore the supply at Stemhead Lane and hopes to have this up and running by the weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You could join us!

 We want you!

Civil Defence Emergency Management throughout the Wellington Region is being restructured into a single organisation designed to meet the needs of our communities spread across nine cities and districts. To complement the talents of the current team, we are looking for five people for the following roles:

Manager Community Resilience

Disasters happen, quickly, and without compassion. While they can’t be prevented entirely, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the impact and enable the community to be better prepared to respond effectively and recover quickly. This exciting role is to deliver the outcomes arising from our goal to build resilient communities. It involves developing strategies, leading staff, building systems, delivering programmes, and creating and energising networks in the community, all designed to ensure communities have a degree of self sufficiency and able to respond effectively and recover quickly, in an emergency.

(Three) Emergency Management Advisors

We are looking for generalist Emergency Management practitioners who possess outstanding interpersonal skills, are good at building response systems, able to promote self sufficiency in the community and who work well in an operational setting. In addition to the above, we require the following specific attributes of two of the applicants: One is required to manage the team’s technology requirements. Competencies here include website management, managing our radio communications systems, and implementing the recently introduced Emergency Management Information System. Another will be part of the Community Resilience team, working largely in the Kapiti district. Ideally this person should live within or near the Kapiti area.

Administrator (Fixed Term Position for 12 months).

Part of a two person admin unit, the successful applicant will provide administrative support to a team spread across the Wellington region. If you have what it takes to be part of our team doing vital work in our local communities, then apply by clicking the link below.

For further information please contact Grace Nicholls, Human Resources Coordinator, Greater Wellington Regional Council on 04 830 4013.

Applications close 5 pm Tuesday 5 June 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No tsunami threat to New Zealand - Sumatra

An earthquake measuring 8.7 has occurred off the coast of northern Sumatra (a similar location, but slightly lower magnitude, to the devastating Boxing Day quake of 2004).

Based on current information from it's scientific advisors, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has made an initial assessment that this event does not pose a tsunami risk to New Zealand. They will continue to monitor the situation. Only official messages from MCDEM represent the official warning status for New Zealand.

Friday, March 30, 2012

New Zealand ShakeOut - 9:26 - 26:9

At 9.26am on Wednesday 26 September (9:26-26:9), we aim to have 1 million people throughout New Zealand participate in the New Zealand ShakeOut earthquake drill.

You could be anywhere – at home, at work, at school or on holiday. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the drill wherever you are at 9:26-26:9.

The website went live yesterday with a launch at Owhiro Bay School in Wellington. It has been up and running for barely 24 hours, and already there are more than 13,000 participants registered!

In 2011 the Great California ShakeOut had 8.6 million participants, we haven't quite got that many, but we hope to get 1 million New Zealanders, with at least 110,00 from the Wellington Region alone. How many can Porirua get?

Register now, and encourage your family and workmates to join in!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dalight Savings ends this weekend

It's that time of year again.

This Sunday we all put our clocks back one hour. Remember "Spring forward, Fall back".

The Fire Service would like to remind you to change your smoke alarm batteries, or get a couple of smoke alarms if you haven't got any - contact the Fire Service if cost is going to be a problem.

And while you are thinking about keeping your family safe, it's a good time to check your emergency supplies.

Check that you can find all of your survival items, and make sure that they work. You don't need to keep them all in a special kit, I've got mine all over the house!

Check that your household plan is up to date, and everyone knows what to do. Has anyone on your emergency contacts list changed phone numbers, or moved house?

Check that your long-life food hasn't gone past its expiry date. Have a look for swelling, dents or rust on tins, as they are signs that the contents may not be good anymore. I write the date I bought canned food on the top, so I know to use the oldest tins first.

Have a look at your emergency water supply. If it's gone a bit green or has floaties, give the bottle a good clean out, and refill or replace it, and store a few more for good measure. You can never have too much. Don't forget you can pick up 10L water containers from the council office, for just $5 each.

Friday, March 2, 2012

150km/h winds tonight!

The MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for heavy rain as well as severe gales for tonight and tomorrow.

In the 17 hours from 10pm Friday (tonight), we can expect 100 to 120mm of rain, and from about 4am to 4pm Saturday (tomorrow) we can expect damaging south to southeast winds with gusts up to 150km/h!

Rough seas and heavy swells may cause erosion and storm surge inundation in some coastal areas. Conditions should ease later on Saturday as the low moves away to the east.

Winds of this strength can be quite damaging to loose structures, and make driving very hazardous - I'd expect the road over the Rimutakas to be closed due to the wind strength. Powerlines may be damaged, so there may be outages.

Please make sure that any outdoor furniture, rubbish bins and trampolines etc, are well secured, and take extreme care if you have to drive anywhere.

Check the drains around your house, and on the street, and make sure they are clear. The simple act of clearing away rubbish or leaves may help prevent flooding when the rain arrives.

Call the council 237 5089 about flooded drains, call 111 if there is anything really dangerous happening.

Can you identify any of these people?

Our office was burgled during the night between Thursday 15 and Friday 16 February.

A number of laptops, emergency supplies, day packs and tools were stolen. These items are integral to the response the Porirua City Council can make in a civil emergency and of course if we have an emergency before the items are returned or replaced the response will be severely diminished. The emergency centre is a community based resource.

The Porirua Police have posted some CCTV footage of people carrying our stolen gear as they passed though the subway by Porirua train station. If you recognise any of the people in this footage, or have any information about this incident, please contact Constable Damian Parker at the Porirua Police 04 439 0624 or call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. All calls are confidential. When calling please quote reference 120217/0681.!/photo.php?v=261078680637166!/photo.php?v=261079770637057

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22 - One year on

I wasn't there, so I can't give a personal view of the actual Canterbury quake of February 22nd 2011. I have friends and family who lived through the quakes, and some came through it better than others, but the general concensus was that it sucked big time. I can't give justice to the enormity of it without having lived through it, so I'm not going to try. I'm sure there will be plenty of stories in the media about people's personal experiences.

For myself, this time last year I was attending an Emergency Management conference at the Amora Hotel in Wellington, along with many of the Emergency Management Officers from around the country. Many of the Canterbury Emergency Management staff were at the conference to present on their experiences of the September quake.

We had listened to a presentation from Dr Kelvin Berryman from GNS Science about the first quake. I vividly remember him saying that it was remarkable how well the majority of buildings in Christchurch had come through, but he wouldn't want to roll the dice again.

We'd just stepped out for lunch when phones started ringing just after 12:51, and then almost every phone in the room went off with a Geonet notification of a 6.3 quake right under Christchurch. There were hurried conversations and more phone calls, and people started leaving. The conference staff looked a bit sad as their entire conference walked out the door. Conferenz has very kindly rescheduled it for next week, now new and improved with even more lessons learned!

The Canterbury staff headed straight to the airport to get the first flight able to land at Christchurch Airport, and many of us headed straight to the National Crisis Management Centre under the Beehive - "The Bunker" was up and running, and fully staffed within about 30 minutes of the quake. I had worked there after the September quake, but had come in on about Day 3, this time I was there from the get go - at the turning on the computers and opening up a new incident file stage.

It was quite a different experience , but quickly settled into the routine of not having much idea what was going on in the world anywhere other than in Canterbury, and going left to the ladies room, when I should have gone right, or was it the other way round? The NCMC is arranged in a ring in the basement of the Beehive, so either way worked. Finding the exit after a night shift is the tricky part, despite it being well signposted.

There were some quite hard moments - many staff had friends or family in Canterbury, and it wasn't uncommon to find people taking a moment in a quiet space to deal with their emotions.

People in Canterbury all know where they were at 12:51 on Tuesday 22 February 2011 - my Facebook newsfeed is full of the oddest things my Christchurch friends remember about the morning before the quake, where they were at the time, and the things they did immediately after. For some (me too), the week after seems to be a bit of a blur, but the day itself was crystal clear.

Do you remember where you were that day, when you found out what had happened? You might have been at home, at work, out and about, at school. If you think back, if it had happened here, at that time, how would you have coped? Did you have a plan for how to get your family in contact and reunited? Did you have enough water and food and other survival items stored at home to help you through at least a few days?

And how about now, one year later? Now that you've had a chance to see just what a disaster of that scale can do to a city, what it does to people, and how people coped and helped each other, have you taken some steps to improve how prepared your family is?

We're interested in finding the most prepared family, business and school in Porirua, so tell us your story!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More wind for Friday

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for strong winds tomorrow.

Between 5am Friday and 6am Saturday, northwest winds are expected to reach 65 km/h at times, with gusts up to 130 km/h. These winds have the potential to cause damage to trees
and powerlines, and make driving very hazardous.

So make sure you have secured all the things that can blow around outside your house, and if you have problems with your roof lifting in the wind, call 111 and ask for the Fire Service - there were quite a few calls for that on Sunday in the last storm we had.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wind and rain - batten down the hatches!

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for the Wellington area for strong southeasterly gales gusting to 120km/h in exposed places, as well as heavy rain - 60-80mm over the 12 hours from 9am today.

Make sure that you have secured loose items around the outside of your house, things that can blow around and cause damage, like outdoor furniture & trampolines, and things that just get messy,like the rubbish and recycling bins, and make sure the gutters are clear to help prevent surface flooding. You can easily prevent problems by just dragging a rake across the grate, if you see that it's become clogged - which can happen pretty easily with the pohutukawas dropping flowers everywhere at the moment. Ring the council 237-5089 if the problems are beyond your ability to fix, and emergency services if things are really bad!