Nelson Marlborough Health News and Notices

Earthquake Advisory: Update No 2 – 16th November 2016 Public Health Messages


This update follows the initial Public Health messages of 14th November 2016.

Drinking Water

There has been damage to the Seddon and Ward town supplies. Boil all drinking water if you are on either of these supplies.

Private water supplies and individual household supplies may also have been damaged by the earthquake. If you are unsure about the quality of your drinking water it is sensible to boil it.

  • You need to boil or treat water from before drinking, brushing teeth or using in food preparation.  Water from the Ward Civil Defence Welfare Centre tanks is treated and doesn’t need boiling.
  • It is sufficient to bring the water to a rolling boil (for example when an automatic kettle shuts off), it is not necessary to boil it for longer than this.
  • If you cannot boil water, treat it by adding 1 teaspoon (5ml) of plain ( non-scented)  household bleach per 10 litres of water and leave for 30 minutes.

Upset stomachs, diarrhoea and or vomiting

If you are sick, try to limit contact with other people, do not go to work and do not prepare food for anyone.  Call your GP if you require medical attention. It is important you address your health concerns early with your general practice team.  If it’s an emergency call 111.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, dry them thoroughly then use sanitizer (or just use sanitizer if there is no water available)
  • Always wash hands after using the toilet and before preparing food.


Take care with food

 If there have been power cuts, use chilled food first, then frozen, then packaged and canned.
If you are unsure about the safety of any food due to lack of chilled or frozen storage do not eat it.

Human waste (sewage)

If there has been damage to sewerage systems or septic tanks avoid overflows and ponding of any human waste (faeces, poo, urine ). Protective clothing, gloves and good hand washing are important if you are dealing with sewage systems.

If your toilet is not working bury human waste in your garden. Thoroughly wash your hands immediately after contact with human waste.

Use port-a-loos where they are provided.

Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety and associated emotional effects are very common when earthquakes occur. This is a normal response to a very stressful situation. Talking to people and helping others is useful and if you need further support.

The Earthquake Support Line (0800 777 846) which was formerly called the Canterbury Support Line- operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The support line is available for people who are anxious or concerned about how the situation is affecting them or their whanau and who need emotional support, advice or just someone to talk to.

The Government Helpline (0800 779 997) will operate from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week. The Government Helpline provides a one-stop source of information on the services and assistance available to people affected by the emergency.

People with other health concerns are – as per normal – encouraged to call their GP or after hours service or Healthline on 0800 611 116. In an emergency, call 111.

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