Disaster Preparedness

Japan is one of countries that are often attacked by earthquakes and another disasters. You should have knowledge of disaster preparedness for emergency situation.

Preparation for Earthquake

Japan is called “Disaster Country”

Japan is an island country and vulnerable to various disaster risks because of its climate characteristics and the locations of respective islands. Among all numerous disasters, those most frequently occur are “Earthquake.”

Since the Japanese islands are located on the borders of four plates, earthquakes frequently occur. The Great East Japan Earthquake with a seismic intensity of 7 has occurred on March 11, 2011, then tsunami and landslides caused tremendous damage. On April 14, 2016, the Kumamoto Earthquake with a seismic intensity of 7 has occurred. Both caused significant damage to several areas and reconstruction activities are still underway.

Prepare on a Routine Basis

In the event of an earthquake, without the ability to calmly judge the situation, you would get panicked and then exposed to danger of unexpected injury or death. So you do not have to be scared unnecessarily, but it is important for you to be prepared for disasters in your daily life.

For a disaster preparedness, each prefecture has a disaster prevention center in which you can experience simulated earthquake motions or fire-fighting activities. You can also take lessons of artificial respiration and heart massage.

By experiencing the simulated earthquake motions and gaining knowledge and experience, you will be able to imagine what you should do in occurrence of an earthquake or any other disaster in your daily life more than in case you know nothing about it.

Disaster Preparedness Pamphlet

In order to avoid of getting panicked in the event of a disaster, you should learn by using the disaster prevention centers such as those described above or participating in disaster drills held in schools, etc.

Each prefecture or municipal government provides disaster prevention manuals which may be viewed through the Internet. Before you come to Japan for study, check the disaster prevention manual of the prefecture/city/town/village in which you plan to stay.

About Everyday Preparation

It is also important to keep daily necessaries (for at least three days) in stock in preparation for disasters.

Daily necessaries (emergency necessaries) list | Honda Bousai Note

About actions to be taken in response to disasters

In event of earthquake

If you feel a large quake, first protect yourself and wait until the quake stops.
  • If you feel a large quake, first ensure your safety.
  • Move away from block walls and window glasses.
  • If you are in a room, move away from large pieces of furniture.
  • Hide under a strong table.
  • Cover your head with a cushion or bag.
  • Do not move unnecessarily.
When the quake stops, make sure to put out fire

When the quake stops, make sure to put out heaters or eliminate other potential causes of fire. If you evacuate, be sure to turn off the gas at its main cock and the breaker.

Ensure your safety and obtain disaster information

If you have ensured your safety, get information on the disaster.

Japan Meteorological Agency | Earthquake Information

Confirm the safety of your family and immediately secure the exit in preparation for issue of an evacuation advisory. In such a case, take extreme care for overturning furniture or broken pieces of glass.

Confirmation of safety of neighbors and rescue work

After confirming the safety of the environment surrounding you, confirm safety of people who live in your neighborhood and rescue and give aid to those who need any help, in cooperation with neighbors.

Emergency when you are out

In an emergency at a crowded place, try to stay calm and do not get panicked. If clerks give instructions, follow them.

Emergency while you are driving

If you feel a quake, do not brake hard, but gradually slow down and pull up the car on the left side of the road. If you leave the car for evacuation, do not lock the door and leave the key in the key hole (to allow the car to be moved if emergency vehicles pass).

Damage from windstorm and flood

Japan is attacked by typhoons every year. Highly localized heavy rain and flood cause severe damage. However, differently from earthquakes, heavy rain and flood are predictable and thus people tend to take them less serious. Be sure to take appropriate actions in case of windstorm/flood.

Prepare for windstorm/flood

Outside the house

For anything that is placed outside and easily collapsed or blown away, such as planter or tool shed, take it inside the house, place heavy weights on it, or take other protective measures. Be sure to close windows and screen doors.

Inside the house

Protect window glasses and prevent them from being broken and glass pieces from scattering by taping or other methods.

Obtain information on windstorm and flood

Always obtain the latest information from the radio or TV. You can also obtain it from the website of Japan Meteorological Agency.

Japan Meteorological Agency | Disaster Prevention Information

In case evacuation advisory is issued:

If an evacuation advisory is issued or otherwise you feel unsafe, evacuate in an early stage. In such a case, never get close to dangerous places (such as seashore, riverside, or areas that contain risk of landslide).

About high tide and immersion, dangerous places and windstorm and flood

The method for evacuation or the emergency evacuation center is different depending on the city/town/village, so check them in advance.

Emergency evacuation center designated by each prefecture

About communication method in case of disaster

At the time of disaster, use “Disaster Message Services” or email.

Handling of Heaters

Air conditioners are mainly used as heating appliances in the winter time. However, air conditioners are expensive and require large-scale installation work, many international students probably prefer to use small electric heaters. Be careful when you use a second-hand heater because it may contain defect in its electric system. It would be very dangerous to use it without any repair. In addition, even if there is no defect, small heaters are very dangerous because they are so light and easily removed, so any wrong use of them may cause fire.

Types of heating APPLIANCES

Air conditioners

An air conditioner has both warming and cooling functions, so it would be convenient, if you have one at home.

Advantage It can warm the entire room and has a time/temperature setting function.
Disadvantage The air in the room may is dried too much.
Electric heater

Electric heating appliances can rapidly warm the room.

Advantage The main body is light-weighted and portable.
Disadvantage It takes a long time to warm a large room in whole.
Kerosene fan heaters / Kerosene heaters

Kerosene heating appliances warm the entire room by heat from burning kerosene. Some apartments may prohibit the use of them, so you must be careful.

Advantage They can warm the entire room and has a time/temperature setting function.
Disadvantage You need to frequently ventilate the room and pay cost for and attnetion to feed the oil.

There are another heating appliances such as electric kotatsu/carpet, so determine which is most-suited for your use before you get it. It also would be good to ask your Japanese friends about which device is suitable for the use in the area.

Danger in heating appliances

Misuse of heating appliances may cause a large-scale accident. In addition, heating appliances used for a long time tend to cause accidents such as smoking or fire due to its deterioration. Every year before you start using an electric appliance, be sure to thoroughly clean it and check that it works safely. If its performance cannot be maintained, stop using it.

<Precautions for use of warming appliances>
  • Do not get too close to the vent of the hot air or the heater itself.
  • Do not place anything that may post any danger of explosion or ignition (spray can, etc.) near the vent of the hot air.
  • When you use a kerosene heater, frequently ventilate the room. When you feed oil, take care not to leak it from the tank.
  • When you go to bed or go out, switch off the heater and disconnect plug from the outlet.
  • When you use an electric carpet /kotatsu, be careful that one area of your skin would not get in touch with the heating appliance for a long time (for prevention of moderate-temperature burn).
  • When you use an air-conditioner, also use a humidifier or hung a wet towel, etc. to prevent the air from drying too much.

In case of fire

In the winter time, the air is dry and heating appliances are frequently used, which increase the risk of fire. Needles to say, not only heating appliances can be a source of fire. For example, a fire can also be generated by a lot of heated oil when you use it for cooking and leave it for a while. It may occur from ignition at a dusty outlet or bundled cord.

Possible causes of fire in household

Gas stove Fire from heated oil out of your sight
Electric outlet Fire from dust between a plug and an outlet
Cigarette Toss a cigarette butt without completely extinguishing it or toss it onto not an ashtray but an ordinary trash box.
Warming appliances Fire from a heater with which a combustible such as clothing or curtain gets contact.

If a fire breaks out

  1. Yell “Fire!” to let other people around you know (or switch on an emergency alarm, if any.
  2. Call #119 (Fire Department) or ask someone around you to call it.
<Example of telephone conversation with fire department>

Fire department: “Kaji desuka? Kinkyu desuka (Has a fire occurred? Is it an emergency?)

You: “Kaji desu (It’s a fire)

Fire department: “Jusho wa dokodesuka? (Where is it?)

You: “XX city, YY chome ZZ banchi”

Fire department: “Nani ga moeteimasuka? (What is burning?)”

You: “Heya ga moeteimasu (My room is burning)”

Fire departement: “Nigeokureta hito wa imasuka (Is anyone trapped in the building?)”

You: “Imasen (No, nobody is)”

Fire department: “Denwabango to anatano namae wo oshietekudasai (Tell me your telephone number and name)”

Instruction for telephone conversation
  • Clearly tell them the address to which fire trucks should come.
  • If you do not know the address, tell them a large building or landmark near the site.
  • Stay calm and answer their questions in such a way that they can understand what you say.

If you try to extinguish a fire within two minutes after the occurrence and the flames are lower than your height:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Water
  • Cover flames with large wet blankets or towels
Fire occurred during cooking (pan or frying pan) / electric heater / outlet
  • Cover the source with fire extinguishing agent or wet blankets or towels to isolate it from air.
  • Do not move the pan. Never spray water on it.
Fusuma / Furniture / Curtain
  • Extinguish the fire before it reaches the ceiling.
  • If you feel unsafe, do not force yourself to fight the fire and quickly evacuate. Once the fire reaches the ceiling, stop the fire-fighting activity and immediately evacuate.


If the fire reaches the ceiling, immediately evacuate from the site. Do not bother yourself with belongings or clothing, and just leave the site.

While you are evacuating, cover your mouth and nose with a wet towel and keep your posture low so that you would not inhale smoke. Before you leave, close the windows and doors of the room in order to prevent any spread of the fire to the neighborhood.