People are being encouraged to get low next week and raise awareness of drills which may be life-saving one day.

The national civil defence earthquake drill NZ ShakeOut is happening on Thursday at 1.30pm.

Rotorua Lakes Council civil defence co-ordinator Linda Johnston encourages the community to get behind the New Zealand ShakeOut because everyone has a role in an emergency to be ready to respond for the safety of themselves and others.

"Given the frequency and history of earthquakes in New Zealand, this drill is incredibly important."

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The goal of ShakeOut is to remind everyone of the right action to take during an earthquake – drop down on your hands and knees, cover your head and neck under a sturdy table or desk, and hold on to your shelter for one minute.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, 61 out of 159 schools nationally had registered to ShakeOut 2019, including Rotorua Boys' High School.

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Linda says schools and businesses have an important part to play in increasing the resilience of the whole community.

She says the Ministry of Civil Defence focuses on the education sector.

Schools, including early childhood and tertiary organisations, teach their students earthquake, fire and lockdown drills in preparation for any emergency to keep the children safe.

"Young people will often be the ones teaching their friends and family about preparedness."

The Ministry of Civil Defence provides resources to support emergency management education, including understanding of local hazards, knowledge and skills to be more prepared for an emergency.

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Linda says awareness of earthquake safety is important because New Zealand lies on a fault line at the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.

This makes us prone to earthquakes as the plates move and collide with each other.

There are thousands of earthquakes in New Zealand every year, but most of them are too deep or too small to be felt.

"It is important for Rotorua to be prepared for earthquakes as the geothermal nature of some areas means the effect of a strong earthquake on our city is much less predictable.

"As Rotorua is land locked, our city's resources and civil defence response teams could be called upon to help the surrounding coastal cities in the event of a tsunami."

Linda says teaching people how to protect themselves by the drop, cover and hold method, and practicing the drill at least once a year is proven to reduce the chances of being injured in an earthquake.

A large earthquake may also produce a tsunami - if living in a coastal area schools are encouraged to find out where the inundation zones are and to practice a tsunami hikoi (evacuation).

Tsunami evacuation zone maps can be found on council and civil defence websites.

"Understanding the local environment and potential hazards is important for everyone living in or visiting Rotorua.

"Reducing and managing those risks is everyone's responsibility."

More emergency information, resources and signing up for schools and businesses can be found at getready.govt.nz.

Drop, cover and hold drill
- Drop down on your hands and knees. This protects you from falling but lets you move if you need to.
- Cover your head and neck (or your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk (if it is within a few steps of you).
- Hold on to your shelter (or your position to protect your head and neck) until the shaking stops. If the shaking shifts your shelter around, move with it.

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