Japan has had some major earthquakes in its history and recent past. You can be sure there are more to come. This page describes what you need to do to be prepared for an earthquake in Japan.
Earthquakes in Japan
Japan is a country set on the edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire - the edge of a tectonic plate that also is responsible for volcanic and seismic activity in the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand and along the western coast of the America's.
The Ring of Fire is an active area and Japan also is very active. It benefits from this in the numerous onsen (natural hot pools) that are all through the country. The downside is the frequent earthquakes, and the less frequent major earthquakes.
Being ready for an earthquake
If you come to Japan to teach, it is important to realize you will most probably experience an earthquake. It may be mild and will just be a bit of a fright and nothing more, or it may be a major earthquake, like the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11th. You need to be ready mentally, as well as being prepared with an earthquake ready kit. Seriously.
Survive a major earthquake with an earthquake ready kit
Chances are you will survive without it but a readiness kit can greatly increase your comfort in the event of a disaster. The following is a list of what may happen and where possible, how to be prepared for it.
- Water services may be damaged and stop
- This means water will not come out of your tap. You should keep water in P.E.T. bottles to survive no water. Water may even still flow, but it is advised not to drink it unless you can boil it first as it can be contaminated.
- Electricity may stop
- This means no light, no heater (even most kerosene heaters use electricity), no computer, no TV, no fridge, no charging your cell phone, etc. Be prepared with a portable radio with spare batteries (there are occasional updates in various languages), a torch with spare batteries, warm clothes and blankets, books/playing cards etc.
- Gas (natural gas/LPG) may stop
- Gas is what most houses and apartments in Japan use for cooking. If this stops you won't be able to boil water or heat food. However, many places outside of cities are not connected to main gas lines and rather have their own gas bottles which should allow you to have gas for cooking and boiling water.
- Petrol becomes scarce
- Petrol stations use electricity, and so will not be able to pump unless they are on a generator. Petrol stations also run out of gasoline very quickly as people scramble to fill up their tanks. Queues can be very long and limits can be imposed. Always keeping your tank topped up is the best thing you can do. Storing petrol is dangerous so shouldn't be done.
- Food becomes scarce
- Buying food becomes a major issue. Supermarkets may close their doors and sell things right out of the front door, in an effort to stop people looting or buying everything all at once. Be prepared by having long lasting food on hand, and perhaps a portable gas cooker that operates on gas canisters. Be prepared to be unable to buy food. If roads are damaged, shops will not be able to be replenished till they are fixed and trucks are able to get through.
- Cash will be difficult to acquire
- If electricity is out, so are ATM's. Be prepared for this by always keeping cash on you, and even keeping a few bills somewhere safe inside your house/apartment.
- Transport may stop operating
- This means trains, buses, taxis, etc. If you are near an airport, flights will also be affected. In this case, stay somewhere safe and wait. Things will get back to normal, but you may have to find an evacuation center for immediate shelter.
- Communication difficult or impossible
- If cell phone towers are damaged you won't be able to access internet or other communication services via your smart phone. If power is off, you will also be unable to charge your phone. There are battery powered chargers available but in lieu of that, turn your phone off and save the battery until you are sure you can use it.