Coping with Natural Disasters
Japan is prone to such natural disasters as earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons, floods and volcanic eruptions. The most common are earthquakes (although the majority go by unnoticed by the general public), and typhoons, which hit Japan every summer.
Some of the most important steps you can take to ensure your safety must actually be made before the event. First and foremost, you should inform your embassy that you are in Japan. This can usually be done by accessing your embassy’s webpage. This way they will be able to help locating you should the need arise. The next thing you need to do is to prepare a basic emergency pack. This should include bottled water, food that will not easily perish, a flashlight and batteries, a list of emergency phone numbers, and a simple medical kit. You may also wish to include clothes, toiletries, and a book, in case of not being able to return to your home immediately. This emergency pack should be placed near to your door, so you don’t need to waste time going to retrieve it. It is also important that you find the location of your closest evacuation point. These are usually schools with large gymnasiums.
Most earthquakes in Yamaguchi will pass by unnoticed, as they are so small. Occasionally though, there are stronger earthquakes, and the possibility of one of these occurring should not be dismissed. During a large earthquake objects may fall and smash, so you first need to protect yourself from falling objects. You should try to protect yourself under something sturdy like a table or a doorway. If you are cooking at the time, then be sure to turn off the gas. (In large earthquakes the mains supply automatically shuts down). After the earthquake subsides, when you are able to stand, you should open a door to secure an exit, and move to your evacuation point if it is safe. You must be careful of debris falling from buildings above.
Large earthquakes at sea may cause tsunami. Tsunami warnings are issued after earthquakes, so if possible try to listen to the TV or radio. If a warning is released then you should try to move away from the coast, and to higher ground.
Japan’s typhoon season is from June to November, with the majority hitting in August and September. The best security measure you can make is to stay indoors. You may find that you need to leave your house in a typhoon, in which case you should travel by taxi. Electricity, gas and water services can be affected by typhoons, so you may need the water and food from your emergency packs, and a blanket. Television coverage of typhoons is extensive, so watch that for an idea of when it is going to hit. Buildings can be damaged by typhoons, so it is important to watch out for falling debris, and sharp objects on the ground following typhoons. People can be injured from objects being blown from balconies, so ensure you remove any possible dangerous objects before the typhoon, and place them indoors.
The heavy rains in June and the rain that comes with typhoons can cause some flooding. If your home is affected you should head to your nearest evacuation center.
Volcanic eruptions are rare in Japan, but they do occur. In the event of such an eruption you should close your windows and wear a protective mask and goggles to protect you from the ash. If at all possible, do not leave your house.
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