Changing of the seasons is a great time to update our family’s earthquake preparation bags. The kids have all grown, so clothes need to be switched out, and expiration dates on food checked. As a mom of four kids and long-time Tokyo resident I often think about earthquakes, and “what if”. We cannot predict earthquakes, but we can reduce the stress by being prepared.
Earthquake Preparation in Japan - Top Ten Prep List
Below is my top ten list for earthquake preparation. If you have children who are still growing quickly, remember to repack your earthquake kit twice a year to assure for seasonality and body growth. Complete the steps below today! I also highly recommend (once re-open) to visit the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center (Ikebukuro, Tokyo) or the Sona Area (Ariake Tokyo) to learn how to be more prepare for a natural disaster, as well as, experience a simulated earthquake.
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#1. Write down mobile numbers, emails and address for you, your husband, and key friends and family and share the list (and location of the paper list) with your kids.
#2. Discuss with your family about a safe meeting place outside to gather if your house or apartments not safe. Ideally a local park with a large open area. “Let’s meet at this location XX.” Visit the location so there is no misunderstanding. Also agree on what time you will meet in case of being separated “let’s meet at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and leave a note”.
#3. Register with your country’s embassy your contact info, and your family members names and ages. Embassies need this information to assist you in the case of natural disaster. Prepare a folder with copies of your passports, alien registrations and also some extra cash in case you need to leave the house quickly. Keep these items with your earthquake preparation packs.
#4. Install the Yurekuru app on your iPhone or mobile device. This app will notify you a few seconds before an earthquake happens. You can set the sensitivity, so you are not getting alerted at 3-4 magnitude range, but rather 5+. Also, they have a Twitter account in Japanese but you can understand even if you don’t read all the kanji.
#5. Bookmark the English JMA (Japan Meteorological Site) so you can access right after an earthquake to get details on location, magnitude, and if there is a tsunami threat.
#6. Program into your radio or write down the English-speaking radio broadcasts that include Inter FM (76.1FM Tokyo, 76.5FM Yokohama), Eagle (810AM) and the bilingual format of NHK (693AM).
#7. Learn about the Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171) which is a message board for communication when a disaster. By entering your landline phone number as a pin code, you can leave a message on the system where other family members who share the same landline number can listen to your message and record theirs as well. Unfortunately, the system is only in Japanese but you can review this link for a helpful animation explaining how the system works. You can access the 171 system on the first and 15th of each month to practice. Set a date with your family and practice as soon as you can!
#8. Prepare your house for a shake. Get on your hands and knees and look around your rooms. What would hurt you or someone else in your house if it fell? What is not secured against the walls well? Fix it today or remove it completely. Most injuries in earthquakes are caused by falling everyday items.
#9. Pack an earthquake evacuation kit. We have three backpacks in our front closet for a family of six, and one dog that is ready to go when we need to leave quickly. Amazon.co.jp has an entire area for earthquake kits and preparation. The bare essentials are as follow.
#10. Don’t worry, just be prepared.
Earthquake Preparation in Japan - Easy Things To Do Today
Essentials for a home earthquake kit – It is easy to make your own kit using an old backpack. The links below are to Amazon.co.jp where you can immediately find the product listed.
- Water for two days
- Canned and packaged foods for two days (buy food which can be opened by hand)
- Set of clothes for each person and foil blanket
- Toothbrush and soap sets, and small towels
- Working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs, or crank flashlight
- Portable radio with extra batteries (or hand crank for charging)
- Dust mask (you can use a bandana if you prefer)
- Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location)
- Swiss Army knife and small took kit
- Emergency cash in small bills
- Medications, contact lens, etc.
- First aid kit
- Copies of vital documents such as insurance policies, medical consent forms, list of emergency contact numbers, doctor’s name and contact information, prescription lists, personal identification (drivers license, work ID card, etc.) all stored in a water-resistant folder.
- Pens and pad of paper for leaving notes.
- Work gloves for each adult
- Heavy duty plastic bags for waste, and to serve as tarps, rain ponchos, and other uses
- Sunscreen, bug spray, mosquito coils
- カイロ Kairo hand and feet warmers
- Playing cards and some other items to keep busy (travel games, crayons, drawing paper)
- Dog food