Expecting the Unexpected: Getting Prepared for Disasters in Japan

Bjorn

As most of us know, Japan is prone to natural disasters due to its location near several seismic plates that can cause earthquakes as well as tsunamis. Whether it is Kyushu or Tohoku just some time ago, or Kanto and Kobe many years ago, those who come to visit Japan are naturally among those affected by these disasters. But what do you do as a foreign traveler when you are caught in a disaster? And how do you prepare yourself as best as possible?

emergency preparedness disaster japan
Photo by PK used under CC

General Tips

-When you arrive at your destination, agree on where to meet with all your travel companions if you get separated.

-Be aware of where your country’s embassy is located. While the main embassy will most likely be in Tokyo, many countries also have smaller offices in other major cities.

-Some countries have special emergency systems for its nationals going abroad (the USA for example has the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). Through these systems they can contact and inform you of the latest developments and help you find your way.

-Certain buildings, especially public and new buildings, are built in such a way that they can resist stronger earthquakes and offer a safe(r) place to take shelter.

-Ask other people where to go using some of the essential emergency sentences and phrases in Japanese (see below). They can guide you to an emergency shelter or a place to get safe water and food.

-If you are near a coastline and hear tsunami sirens, you should evacuate to a higher ground. This can be the roof of a (newer) multi-story building or a hillside if there are no multi-story buildings around.

emergency preparedness disaster japan
Photo by UK in Japan used under CC

The ‘light’ survival kit

  • Bottled water, a 0.5-liter bottle will last you a few hours
  • Packed food, biscuits or other dry snacks
  • Small flashlight with a spare battery
  • Plastic bag to keep trash and waste
  • Cash, especially coins
  • Mini bottles of hygiene supplies for feminine hygiene, infant supplies or disinfecting your hands
  • A physical map of the area you are visiting
  • A copy of your passport
  • Some simple first-aid supplies
  • A list of emergency contacts, including your immediate family, travel companions and your accommodation
  • A card with the essential emergency sentences and phrases from below
  • Specific medicines you may need on a regular basis

Since this is a light survival kit to help you go through the initial few hours, this list is not all inclusive. If you are heading out in the mountains or an area where you might not be able to find other people, expand your travel pack to include emergency supplies that’ll last a few days.

emergency preparedness disaster japan
Photo by David Pursehouse used under CC

Emergency Sentences and Phrases

Koko wa doko desu ka.
What is the name of this place?

Hinanjo wa doko desu ka
Where is the emergency shelter?

Koko wa anzen desu ka.
Is it safe here?

Anzen na basho wa doko desu ka.
Is there anywhere safe around here?

… e no chizu wo kaite kudasai.
Could you please draw a map to …?

Kokusai denwa wa dokode kakeraremasu ka.
Where can I make an international call?

Tabemono to mizu wa doko de kaemasu ka.
Where can I buy food and water?

Kyou shukuhaku dekiru basho wo sagashite imasu.
I am looking for a place to stay tonight?

Kega wo shite imasu.
I am injured.

Keganin ga imasu.
There is an injured person.

Byouin wa doko desu ka.
Where is a hospital?

emergency preparedness disaster japan
Photo by Miki Yoshihito used under CC

Although disasters rarely happen, it is best to be prepared and we hope these little tips and tricks may help you do so in confidence for your trip to Japan. Rests to wish everyone a good and safe trip!





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