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Chiba's recent woes offer a valuable lesson for the next natural disaster

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It's not news to say that Japan is frequently struck by earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons, landslides, flooding from torrential rains and other types of natural catastrophes. And with them come power and water outages, which sometimes require people to evacuate their homes for days or even weeks. 

The most recent example of nature's wrath was Typhoon No. 15, which struck Japan the second week of September. After skirting Tokyo it turned its full attention to rural parts of Chiba, where it left three dead in its wake. 

"I thought I'd taken enough precautions in the event of an earthquake or typhoon; but what I hadn't counted on was the heat, of over 35 degrees," Chiba-based author Miyoshi Yanagihara, whose house was without power for some 50 hours, tells Shukan Post (Oct 4). "There was no chilled water to drink to cool myself down. I drove my 84-year-old mother and our two dogs by car to my daughter's home in Urayasu City. I wonder what would have become of us if I hadn't had a car." 

In preparation for such difficulties, Japanese habitually keep rucksacks consisting of standardized contents such as bottled water, a first-aid kit, emergency rations, vinyl sheeting and a change of sox and underwear. 

But Shukan Post notes how the times have changed, and advises its readers to update the contents where necessary. 

First on its list is phosphorescent tape to be placed on steps and footpaths. When the power goes off, people -- the elderly in particular -- need to see where they're walking or they risk falling accidents that can have serious consequences such as fractures. 

Another item that belongs in the emergency kit is a roll of plastic food wrap, which can be used as a substitute for adhesive plaster to stop bleeding. 

Now let's say you've been forced out of your home and must take up temporary residence in a school gymnasium together with dozens of other unfortunates. Two things you are advised to have handy in order to ensure sleep are an eye mask and earplugs. 

Theft is a definite concern. A survivor of the January 1995 Hanshin Earthquake tells the magazine he used plastic string fastened to his wallet, which he wore around his neck while sleeping. Also, to prevent your shoes from being mistakenly worn by someone else, write your name on them using duct tape and a pen, and fasten it visibly on each shoe. 

When you have the benefit of a warning that a typhoon is approaching, the writer advises chilling ice packs, which can be transferred from the refrigerator to insulated ice chests if the power is cut. Likewise, since receiving information updates can be crucial, you'll need a USB conversion cable that connects to your car's cigarette lighter socket for charging your smartphone. 

The aforementioned Yanagihara also advises using your car as backup storehouse, keeping special quick-cooking Alpha-rice, a variety of canned goods and bottled water in the trunk. Elderly or people who have allowed their driver's license to expire should proactively discuss matters with others beforehand so as not to be left wanting. 

While some evacuation shelters have set aside spaces for people's pets, this is not always the case, and some might find themselves spending a rather uncomfortable night beside their pet in a car. 

"For their own peace of mind, people with dogs or cats should inquire to nearby shelters to ascertain if measures are in place to care for animals," Yanagihara advises. 

Emergency respirators and other rescue equipment that run off car batteries or even compressed gas are available and should be procured in advance for those prone to such conditions. It's also advisable to have on hand at least two weeks of medications for any chronic conditions. Local authorities understand the need to fill prescriptions and their assistance can be relied upon in emergencies, but seniors may not know the names of the drugs they are taking. In such a case they're advised to always keep on hand their okusuri-techo handbook that maintains an ongoing record of all their drugstore transactions.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

6 Comments
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Put the electricity cables underground. At least they would be protected from the inevitable typhoons.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Underground? I'm not sure you understand the implications of building 200kV underground lines... Because that's what failed thus time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The burying of high voltage cables 200kV to 500Kv is a very difficult task and some say the magnetism caused can also be a problem.

One relative suffers from being near high levels of magnetism.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have worked with cables up to 30kV, they are hard enough for me.

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Perhaps its time to fell the trees alongside those Power lines ?

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How many disasters is it going to take for us to "learn a valuable lesson"?

There have been dozens and dozens of disaster since I've been here in the 80s and not much has been "learned".

Just temporarily jolted into getting a go-bag ready and then eventually eating and using things from it after awhile.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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