Natural Disasters

On this page:

  • Find your nearest evacuation shelter
  • The Disaster Prevention Broadcast System
  • Preparing for a disaster: making a kit
  • Making calls during a disaster
  • Resources

Find your nearest evacuation shelter (This page lists sites in Chiba Prefecture)

Type your Japanese address into the search box, or search for your city alphabetically on the screen. Minamiboso City (南房総市) is at the bottom. On the next page you can click さらに絞り込む near the top to find your district. That will bring you to a list of nearby evacuation sites.

災害種別 (saigai shubetsu) tells you what kind of disaster it is for:

  • 洪水 (kozui) – flood
  • 津波 (tsunami) – tsunami
  • 地震 (jishin) – earthquake
  • 風水害 (fusuigai) – storm and flood damage

On the right-hand side, 海抜 (kaibatsu) tells you the height above sea level.

If you’re still not sure where your shelter is during a disaster, go to the closest school or community center. They are usually disaster shelters.

The Disaster Prevention Broadcast System

If you’re living in Minamiboso, from time to time you’ll hear announcements from the echoing speakers outside or the annoying radio in your home. Sometimes it’s an announcement about the local election, sometimes its an alert about strong weather, and unfortunately sometimes it will be used for a real emergency.

No matter whether you’re fluent in Japanese or not, understanding these broadcasts is hard, so here is a short list of phrases that will be useful when trying to understand disaster announcements.

First, any broadcast that has to do with disaster prevention will start with 防災南房総市 (“Disaster Prevention in Minamiboso”). Then they’ll begin the announcement.

The three levels of evacuation warnings:

  1. Evacuation Preparation (避難準備 hinan junbi): Begin preparations in case you need to evacuate.
  2. Evacuation Recommended (避難勧告 hinan kankoku): Residents should evacuate to their nearest refuge area.
  3. Evacuation Order (避難指示 hinan shiji): All residents must evacuate to their nearest refuge area immediately.

The three kinds of evacuation areas:

  1. Emergency Evacuation Sites (避難場所 Hinanbasho): Elementary/junior/high schools, community centers, parks, and other sites for temporary evacuation.
  2. Emergency Evacuation Shelters (避難所 Hinanjo): Facilities that can be used as temporary shelter/overnight stay if housing is lost or damaged, and where supplies will be delivered. After evacuating to an Emergency Evacuation Site (避難場所 hinanbasho), relocate to a Shelter (避難所 hinanjo) if necessary when it is safe to do so.
  3. Broad-Area Evacuation Sites (広域避難場所 Kouiki Hinanbasho): Open areas like parks for safety from the heat/smoke of large fires.

Preparing for a disaster: making a kit

Earthquakes are not uncommon and you never know when a big one might occur. While there’s no need worry yourself over it, it is important to be prepared. You can buy or make your own disaster kit. Below is a list of recommended items:

  • 3 days worth of food and water for yourself (non-perishable items)
  • Change of clothes and underwear (preferably for 3 days)
  • Copy of your passport/residence card
  • Extra doses of any medication you absolutely need
  • First aid kit
  • Copy of any emergency contact info you may need
  • Flashlight (torch) and a hand crank radio
  • Can opener
  • Trash bags/ties for sanitation
  • Plates, cups, etc.
  • Plastic wrap to avoid washing dishes
  • Whistle
  • Insulation sheet/blanket
  • Eye glasses (if you wear contacts)
  • Cash (about 30,000 yen in small bills)
  • Optional: Batteries, plastic bags (sealable), matches, lighters, candles, wet tissues, body wipes, dry shampoo, paper towels, rope, scissors/knife, industrial grade facemask, space blanket, etc. (recommended by survivors of the Kobe Earthquake

Keep these in a durable bag that you can carry hands-free (like a backpack). Flame-proof bags are recommended in case there is a fire.

Making calls during a disaster: 171 System

Once a disaster occurs, the first thing you want to do once you’re safe is tell your family and friends you’re okay. But because everyone tries to make calls, it becomes very difficult to get through.

For this purpose Japan has a system to send and receive messages during disasters called the 171 service. Put simply, it is like playing phone tag where you send and receive messages by leaving voicemails. Check out the link below to learn how this service works.

Note: This system works on landlines and public phones but may not work on mobile phones. To see if it works on your mobile phone, contact your provider.

CREDIT/RESOURCE: What to do during a disaster and more (Some information taken from this website with permission.)
*Note that this website is aimed for those on the JET Program (a program that sends English-speakers and Japanese-speakers to Japan to teach English or translate). However, most of the page about natural disasters is not specific to JETs.

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