Disaster Preparedness Tips

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Disaster Preparedness Tips


September 1 in Japan marks "Disaster Prevention Day." Despite the name (if ONLY we could actually prevent natural disasters!), it is a great reminder for your family to work on your disaster preparedness plans.

CareFinder has rounded up our annual list of a few basic steps your family can take, as well as resources to leverage, so that in the event of a disaster, you are prepared as best you can be!

Natural Disasters in Japan
It's likely not news to you that Japan has the potential for some pretty scary natural disasters. Earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis — while not all probable, but definitely possible — are real concerns your family should be ready to address.

Earthquakes can happen at any time and, in fact, several minor ones do daily! While the vast majority of the thousands of earthquakes in Japan every year will barely register to you, there is always the chance that there will be a large one. Many scientists believe Tokyo is due for one soon! Much of the infrastructure is specifically designed and built to handle a large earthquake, but it is still very important that your family be ready, just in case.

Tsunamis go hand-in-hand with earthquakes. Usually sparked by large underwater earthquakes, a tsunami adds to the danger if there is not enough of a warning before it hits. Luckily, the tsunami warning system in Japan is robust, especially following the 2011 Tohoku, or Great East Japan, earthquake and tsunami. Having a plan for what your family should do in the event of a tsunami warning is a necessary step to ensuring you stay safe.

Typhoons are severe storms, with strong winds and excessive rain, that can cause mudslides, electricity outages and structural damage. The typhoon season in Japan is from June to October and modern weather forecasting can give us a lots of information to prepare ourselves, so it's at least a natural disaster your family can keep tabs on!

Disaster Preparedness: The Basics
The very first thing your family should do is ensure that you will be alerted to any impending natural disasters. With earthquakes and tsunami, the warnings you receive may come with only minutes to act, so it's critical that you receive warnings as soon as you can. The U.S. Embassy in Japan offers a page of resources for emergency preparedness, including English-language alerts from the Japanese government.

You should also be sure to have emergency kits easily accessible in your home. Backpacks filled with supplies like flashlights, water bottles, sanitizing spray, bandages, heat blankets and more can be literal lifesavers in the event of an emergency. Amazon has tons of ready-made options to choose from, leaving no excuse not to have one (or more as needed)! You should also keep plenty of bottled water on-hand. It's potable for years and will be crucial if the city water is unavailable or otherwise contaminated. The general rule-of-thumb is to keep a three-day supply of four liters of water, per-person, per-day, stocked.

Consider investing in a fire- and/or water-proof safe, as well. If you are a foreign resident in Japan, locating and replacing your family's important documents may be especially difficult if the originals are lost or destroyed in a disaster. You should make copies of birth certificates, passports, visas and other documents to include in your emergency kit and ensure the originals are well-protected. These safes can also double as reliable storage for valuables.

Disaster Preparedness Plans & Drills
Once you know you have the right information and supplies to effectively assist your family in the case of an emergency, it's important you have the plans and the practice to put it all to use!

Make sure everyone in your household — including babysitters — knows where the emergency kits are kept and what the emergency plans are. There are designated evacuation shelters throughout Tokyo; you can find more information on them here. For developing an evacuation plan specific to your family — especially important if you will not all always be in the same place at the same time — check out this guide from the Red Cross.

Once you have your plans developed and outlined, practice! Disaster Prevention Day is a great excuse for your family to run through what should happen in an emergency, but you can plan multiple drill days a year. As mentioned before, it's also important that you involve in anyone who may regularly be in your home, as well, like long-term babysitters.

Many disasters are unpredictable, or will leave us very little time to determine what to do. The most effective steps your family can take are the proactive ones, so be sure to do all you can now to prepare for emergencies in the future.

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