Germany's government has approved new guidelines for protecting the population in case of emergencies such as attacks or long-term power outages, and the country's top security official is trying to fend off criticism of its timing.

The "Civil Protection Concept" approved Wednesday by the German Cabinet is the first update to the plan since 1995. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was overdue, given how much the challenges have changed since then.

The plan has attracted criticism and ridicule over recent days after the leak of a recommendation that people supply themselves with 10 days' worth of groceries. De Maiziere rejected the idea the government was encouraging "panic buying."

He also stressed that the plan is unrelated to recent attacks in Germany, rejecting opposition criticism of the timing.