That's the plea from Bay of Plenty councils and agencies as ex-tropical cyclone Fili approaches the North Island.
Weather warnings are in place for much of the North Island as ex-tropical Cyclone Fili approaches New Zealand.
The downgraded cyclone that formed near New Caledonia six days ago is approaching New Zealand from the northwest.
Metservice meteorologist David Miller said Fili would approach the North Island today, heading offshore of the Bay of Plenty around midday tomorrow.
There was a heavy rain warning from 9pm today until Wednesday midday for the Bay of Plenty. Gisborne District Council has also issued a red warning for its area, including "heavy rain and severe gales" and "very large waves and coastal inundation".
"There's some pretty heavy rain expected in the Bay of Plenty, 130-180mm of rain. On top of that, as that low comes through, we're expected strong to gale south-easterlies ahead of it."
These would change to south-westerly on Wednesday morning as the low crossed the North Island.
Because of this, there would be a strong wind watch for 24 hours from Tuesday at 9pm, with the possibility of it being upgraded to a warning.
Miller also noted the region was "in the firing line" for some strong waves and swell, with the possibility of coastal inundation.
Coastguard Head of operations Rob McCaw said the ex-tropical cyclone had the potential to impact a large part of the North Island, creating largely unsafe conditions on the water for the majority of water users.
"The best rule of thumb is, 'if in doubt, don't go out' - and check your vessel is secure before the storm hits," he said.
An Emergency Management Bay of Plenty spokesperson said it was keeping a close eye on what might happen with ex-cyclone Fili.
They said it had regular meetings with Metservice and other key services so that it could make sure all the relevant agencies knew what could be in store.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council flood team had been checking river levels to make sure there was enough capacity in the system to take an unusually high amount of water over a short period.
If it turned out to be a major event, such as significant damage or significant numbers evacuated, Civil Defence Emergency Management would activate Emergency Operations Centres and/or the Group Emergency Co-ordination Centre.
"If we do not need to activate, we are still involved in more of business as usual way; we stay across what is happening and make sure all agencies are connected and know what is going on."
Local flooding and small-scale damage that did not need a co-ordinated response would be managed by councils and emergency services, just like normal.
From a public preparedness and safety point of view, the Easter weekend and the start of the school holidays meant there were likely to be more people on the roads, as well as visitors who might not be familiar with local hazards.
"We want to make sure everyone in the region recognises what locations may be at risk of flooding as well as associated risks like landslips, road closures etc. Bad weather can also trigger things like power outages."
They asked people to pay attention to Metservice warnings and to keep an eye on Waka Kotahi and local council websites. It would update its own Facebook and Twitter feeds.
"At this stage, we are not expecting that people in our region will need to evacuate, but that could change. People who are planning to camp out over the next few days should keep a very close eye on warnings and think about a plan B."
They also said it was important that Covid-positive people left their houses if it was unsafe.
"Even if you are sick or isolating, the most important thing is to get yourself and your whānau to safety."
Rotorua Lakes Council infrastructure and environmental solutions deputy chief executive and primary civil defence emergency management controller Stavros Michael said if the forecasted amounts fell, it would be heavier than the previous couple of downpours which caused localised flooding of streets and water entering some garages, basements and low-lying homes.
"Anyone who has experienced this could prepare by using sandbags – which are sold at hardware outlets – to divert or dam overland flow paths."
They could also clear away leaves or other debris blocking drains, he said.
Council's Three Waters and transport staff and contractors were monitoring the developing forecasts and making the usual preparations ahead of potentially significant weather events.
This included ensuring wastewater treatment plant storage ponds were as empty as possible, all plants were checked and operational, and major stormwater inlets were free of blockages.
"Staff and equipment are on heightened readiness to respond if/where they can. Council's Civil Defence team is also keeping watch on the situation and will be ready to deploy if needed."
The public can alert the council about anything that may cause issues by phoning its 24/7 Customer Centre on 07 348 4199.
Tauranga City Council city waters acting director Wally Potts said it was carrying out its usual checks, including sending its maintenance contractor to check sumps in areas known to flood with heavy rainfall.
A heavy rain checklist is also made before any predicted rain event and is performed again at the end of the event, Potts said.
"This is predominantly for inlets and outlets, with a history of blocking with debris that is mobilised in a storm."
Director of spaces and places Paul Dunphy said all of its teams were on alert.
The council would respond as conditions required. Localised surface water was expected, which would clear as the rain eased off.
Civil Defence Coromandel controller Garry Towler said Fili was approaching and the biggest concern for the area was the wind causing coastal damage, slips, power cuts and bringing trees down.
A lot of people had already arrived at the holiday hot spot or would be coming to the area for the next few days as Easter and the school holidays approached.
"As it's an overnight event, it will really kick in this evening and start to clear tomorrow morning," Towler told RNZ today.
All authorities could do for now was to warn people to take responsibility and prepare.
"Just avoid travelling," he said.
"From dark tonight stay off the roads - they are dangerous."
Towler said there was a high probability they would have power issues and that the wind would bring down trees tonight.
Coromandel and Western Bay of Plenty customers are also being urged to secure outdoor objects that can blow into power lines ahead of ex-tropical cyclone Fili making landfall.
Powerco field crews are on standby ready to respond should severe wind gusts arrive in the regions from early evening today as forecast.
Powerco Network Operations Manager Scott Horniblow said trampolines, outdoor furniture and other loose items such as sheets of iron should be securely fixed to the ground.
"Wind-blown trampolines and loose roofing iron have caused multiple power outages in previous storms and are a major threat to people's safety.
"Trees and branches blowing into power lines is another risk. It's important if people come across downed or low power lines, they keep well clear and call Powerco's emergency line on 0800 27 27 27."
Steps customers can take to prepare for possible power outages include stocking up on torches and batteries, ensuring cellphone batteries are charged and BBQ gas bottles filled, and have bottled water on hand if you rely on a pump.
Emergency Management tips
• Download the free Red Cross hazards app on your phone
• If you are travelling, check Waka Kotahi before you set off and look up the council Facebook page for your destination
• Listen to local news and weather where possible
• Make sure everyone in the house knows where your emergency supplies are (eg torch and batteries)
• Check on neighbours and whānau ahead of time- do they have what they need? Does anyone need extra help? Are they home or away over Easter?
• Update your grab bag
• Ask visiting friends and whānau to follow BOP Civil Defence on Facebook and Twitter for updates around the clock.