Know what to do

New Zealand is a safe country but we are still at risk from terrorist attacks or similar incidents from lone individuals or organised groups.

We all have a responsibility to keep our crowded places safe. As individuals we need to understand how to recognise and report suspicious behaviour and we need to be clear about what to do in the unlikely event of getting caught up in an attack. Read more on how you can help.

Owners and operators of crowded places should follow the guides and information within the self-assessment tool, assessing your protective security tool and the security audit documents available on prepare your crowded place.

In the event of a terrorist attack or similar incident, what you do matters

In the unlikely event that you are caught up in such an event, it is important to be prepared to react quickly. You need to remember three words: ESCAPE. HIDE. TELL.

All situations are different. You will need to make quick decisions during an event and be prepared to change your plan if necessary. If you want to prepare yourself follow the same guidelines as you would for any emergency such as earthquake, tsunami, volcano etc. on

Remember these three words

escape,Hide,Tell banner



ESCAPE - If you see a safe way out leave the area immediately.  Move quickly and quietly away from danger if it is safe to do so. Take your mobile phone with you if you can, but do not go back to get it if it puts you in danger.

Leave other belongings behind.

Encourage others to go with you, but don’t let their hesitation slow you down. If you cannot escape completely…


HIDE - stay out of sight and silence your mobile phone. Secure your environment by locking doors and windows and barricading entries where possible.  Stay away from doors and be as quiet and still as possible so you do not give away your hiding place. Note any potential exit points.

As soon as it is safe to do so…


TELL - police by calling 111 when it is safe. The more information you can give about your location, surroundings, the attackers and the events that have occurred, the better.

You may be asked to stay on the line and provide further information that the operator requests or if the situation changes.

If it is safe to do so, try to obtain the following information:

  • exact location of the incident.
  • description of the offender/s and whether they are moving in any particular direction.
  • details of any weapons being used.
  • number of people in the area and any that have been injured.
  • the intent of the offender/s (if known or apparent).

Always try to be aware of your surroundings. If you see a commotion, hear screams, gunfire or loud noises, try to identify where it is coming from. If you think it is dangerous, consider what you can do to keep yourself safe.  For example, you may have to hide before you have the opportunity to escape.  In some situations you may still need to hide once you have escaped the immediate area.

If you come across any injured people while hiding, providing first aid may help save their lives. But only help if it does not put yourself and others in any danger.

Try to stop others from entering the area, but only if it doesn’t put you in any danger.

Do not move closer to see what is happening - this may put you in danger.

Consider looking for something you can use to defend yourself as a last resort if you are found by the attacker.