How to Prepare for Natural Disasters in Japan

September 1 is Disaster Prevention Day in Japan, and all across the nation schools and company offices are performing evacuation drills just in case something might happen. This particular day was chosen because it’s the anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake, which occurred in 1923 and took an estimate of 100,000 lives in the quake and subsequent fires that engulfed the city.

There is always a risk of some sort of natural disaster in Japan: typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami are par for the course, so it pays to be prepared. The Tokyo metropolitan government announced, “It is predicted that there is a 70 percent possibility of an earthquake directly hitting Tokyo within the next 30 years.”

Are you prepared?

Here are some of our top disaster preparation tips to make sure you’re fully equipped before a natural disaster occurs…

Prepare an Emergency Bag or Survival Kit

Bousai (disaster prevention) backpacks loaded with essentials can be bought online on Amazon, Yodobashi and other similar websites. They’re a little expensive, but the backpacks are often multifunctional and come with many of the most vital necessities. If you want to gather your own supplies, here are some essentials to keep in mind:

  • Water – ideally three days’ worth per person (one liter per day)
  • Emergency rations – choose items like canned goods and biscuits that can be eaten without a heat source. Also ideally three days’ worth per person
  • First aid kit
  • Copies of your passport, residence card, My Number card, any medical booklets
  • Cash
  • Flashlight and/or candles – try to find a hand-powered one if possible
  • Radio – again, hand-powered if possible
  • Cellphone and charger – either battery or solar-powered
  • Vinyl sheeting, raincoats and protective clothing
  • Lighter and/or matches
  • Can opener, knife
  • Sanitary products for women, if needed
  • Diapers, powdered milk, baby bottles, if needed

These are just some of our suggestions, but there are many more items you could include: hokkairo pocket heaters, extra clothes, garbage bags, face masks, and whatever you think might be necessary. There are several tips on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s website on how to make nappies, knapsacks and more out of garbage bags, as well as other survival tips. Ordinary household items may be surprisingly versatile in the event of a natural disaster. Read up on how you can use them before one occurs.

Know Where Your Nearest Evacuation Area Is

Ideally, everyone should check where the nearest evacuation area or center is wherever they go as earthquakes can happen at any time, but at the very least check the ones close to your office and your home. The most common evacuation areas are spacious locations, such as parks and schools. Have a meeting with your family members, or closest friends and discuss where to meet in case of an emergency. If you can, create a network in your neighborhood so that people can look out for you — and you can look out for them. Pay special attention to those who may be vulnerable, and help them if you can.

Check the Tokyo Metropolitan Disaster Prevention Map for more details on evacuation area locations.

Know Your Source

Misinformation spreads like wildfire during a disaster, so make sure you’re getting the correct information by consulting sources like Japan’s Meteorological Agency. You can sign up for official Tokyo Bousai Twitter updates, earthquake warning apps like Yurekuru, and other useful information sources so that you have them at hand when needed.

Do the Drills

If your local community center or ward office offers drills in your native language or English, considering attending to get an idea of the most important things to do and check when a disaster hits.

Finally, you’ll find these tips and more on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website, along with PDFs of the Tokyo Bousai Booklet.

Read more disaster preparation tips in this article: 

The Lessons of 3/11: Being Prepared for Japan’s Next Great Quake

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