While Japan is a very safe place in terms of violent crime and wild animal attacks, the country’s climate and geography give it the potential for a number of natural disasters. Earthquakes and typhoons are two of the most common, and with torrential rains causing more than 100 deaths last weekend in west Japan from flooding and landslides, now is a good time for residents and long-term travelers in Japan to rethink their disaster preparedness.
Luckily, putting together a basic disaster pack doesn’t require you to go to specialized stores or part with a huge stack of yen. You can find many of the fundamentals for sale at 100 yen shops, where, as you’d guess from the name, almost all items cost just 100 yen plus tax. Our Japanese-language reporter Go recently made a trip to his local 100 yen store, and here are his recommendations for what to keep on hand.
● Cloth gloves
The inclusion of sandals may seem strange, but if you’re following local customs in Japan, you’ll be taking your shoes off while inside homes, hotels, and inns, and leaving them near the door. That means that if you have to make a fast emergency exit out the window, you might not be going within arm’s reach of your shoes, so having some sort of footwear inside your emergency kit is a good idea.
● Portable toilet bags
Likewise, if Mother Nature is releasing her fury, there’s no time for a bathroom break before evacuating. A couple of sealable plastic toilet bags will therefore come in handy, especially if the ordeal has loosened your bowels.
● Triangular towel
● Adhesive bandages
First aid supplies are also something your kit should include. While the triangular towel can be used as a mask, it can also be fashioned into a sling, should you suffer injuries to your shoulder or arm that require you to support and stabilize the limb.
● Plastic bags
● Plastic wrap
If you’re fleeing heavy rains or flooding, being able to keep necessary items dry becomes an issue, so you’ll want waterproofing supplies like these.
● LED lantern light
● Rechargeable mobile battery
● USB, Lightning charging cables
Electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets have gone past being entertaining gadgets and are now critical ways to contact loved ones and get up-to-date information from the authorities, so you’ll want ways of keeping their power levels from draining.
● Hand-powered LED light
You can stretch your battery resources even farther by instead using a hand-powered light for when all you need is shorter bursts of illumination.
● Anti-bacterial wet tissues
● Face-washing wet tissues
No one expects you to be neatly groomed while taking refuge from a disaster, but maintaining a certain level of hygiene will help you stay healthy, especially if wherever you’re taking shelter doesn’t have access to standard bathing facilities.
On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to be able to take a shower someplace, having a towel, either full-sized, half-sized, or compressed, will prevent the need to air dry.
● Foldable cushion
● Air pillow
Disaster victims often end up sleeping in makeshift shelters, which may or may not have standard bedding for everyone. A foldable cushion and air pillow might be more associated with camping or travel, but they can also improve your quality of sleep in a shelter, helping you recover physically and mentally from the ordeal.
● Food and beverages
While most people associate 100 yen shops with housewares, most of them also stock a pretty wide selection of food and beverage items, many with long shelf-lives.
In addition to bottled water, Go picked up cookies, canned yakitori chicken chunks and sardines, dried ramen, and yokan (sweet bean gelatin). He also selected some high-glucose grape-flavored gummies…
…and green tea bags, specially sized to be put inside plastic water bottles.
● Collapsible bottle
● Collapsible cups
Speaking of bottles, 100 yen shops also have easily carried drinking vessels, which will be useful should you find yourself someplace with a large supply of water that’s being doled out to those in need.
Go rounded out his disaster preparedness pack with a toothbrush, plastic rain coat, aluminum emergency blanket…
…and a fruit knife, lighter, and candles, which would allow him to cut food and prepare fires for light or cooking.
Finally, he splurged on a 300-yen nylon bag to stuff everything into.
Go admits this isn’t a complete collection of each and every item you could ever need in the case of a disaster. Still, every bit of preparedness helps, and Japan’s 100 yen shops are an easy place to start.
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