There are always some risks when you travel outside of your country. One of the biggest and most common natural disaster to encounter in Japan is earthquakes. Here are some safety tips to be prepared for earthquakes during your travel to Japan.
1. What to do when an earthquake occur
When you feel large shaking or receive the Earthquake Early Warning, give the highest priority to the safety of your family, friends you are with, and yourself. Protect your head by getting under a table, other objects, or cover with something like pillow or cushion or a pile of magazines. If you are in a building, stay away from glass windows or big furniture because they might break or fall off. Do not rush outside because there is a high risk that glass or building materials fall on you.
If you are at outside, protect your head with your bag. Stay away from concrete block walls, glass windows, signboards etc anything that might collapse and fall down to you.
2. What to do when the quake stopped
If you are near the coast, check tsunami alerts. If there are any, evacuate from the coast immediately. There will be announcements from the government office to run away. If you are in mountanious areas, be aware of landslides. After a huge earthquake, aftershocks will continue. Those aftershocks may continue days or sometimes months. If there are things fallen on the floor, wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet from broken objects.
Do not use elevators or escalators and use emergency stairs. They may terminate due to the damage to electricity lines. You might have been locked in the elevator. If you got locked, search for the emergency button and press it.
Fire is one of the most dangerous secondary disasters. Extinguish cooking fires or cigarettes immediately. Pull the plugs of electronic devices before you leave the building.
3. Getting around after the earthquake
If it is dangerous to be inside the building go to evacuation sites. Usually, a place with open space such as parks and schools are designated as evacuation sites. Look for the sign below.
If you can not go back to the hotel due to damages or lost by fire and not safe to stay, evacuate to an evacuation shelter. Usually, schools or government offices become evacuation shelters; those shelters store necessary food supplies and other necessities such as blankets to support living for a certain period of time. You can use restrooms as well.
Here is the evacuation shelter map provided by Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of General Affairs.
Getting around by train or subways may become hard after a large earthquake. There were many people who could not get to their home in Tokyo when the Great East Japan Earthquake happened in 2011. Try going to one of the evacuation sites in that case.
4. Get accurate information
When a huge earthquake occurred, rumors and speculations tend to increase such as on Twitter. Do not believe everything, pay attention to the information provided by news media, government, fire department, or police. Follow Japan Times Twitter account so that you could get quickest reliable information.
Breaking: M5.7 earthquake, lower 5 on Japanese shindo, jolts Ibaraki. Felt in Saitama, Tokyo areas. No tsunami alert issued.
— The Japan Times (@japantimes) 2016年5月16日
Although there are not any active Twitter found, but information from NHK World, Japan’s only public broadcaster is also reliable.
5. Contacting your family and friends
Contacting your family and friends immediately might be difficult. Telephone connections tend to become difficult after a strong earthquake. When I experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, telephone line did not work for almost a day. Instead, internet services such as Twitter was working fine so I could tell my family and friends that I am okay through internet services. Google provides a service called “Person Finder” so using Google to let your family and your friends in your country that you are okay might be an option.
However, pay attention to the battery. There might not be enough places to get your phone charged. Contact the embassy of your country whenever you can.
6. Better to be prepared
Read through “Safety tips for travelers” website by Japan Tourism Agency.
They also have an iPhone / Android application with essential information in case of emergency. The application has communication card you could use to communicate with non-English speakers.
Be prepared for possible disaster and enjoy your travel to Japan!