Today marks the 4 year anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that ravaged parts of northern Japan. Some have scars that run far deeper than others, but you`d be hard pressed to find a person who lived through the quake that wasn`t affected in some way. Yet, the country has rebounded through prayers, outside support and a will to survive. So in memorial, it felt only natural to share some disaster advice, mostly quake focused, pooled from the experiences of others who are in a place to give it.
I myself was living in Ibaraki Japan at the time, preparing for work when the quake hit. What I went through cannot compare to the devastation those further north saw, but my electrical power was gone for a night, gas for a week and water for a month. Here are some things to keep in mind:
– If you`ve never been through an earthquake of this scale then be warned, it can be psychologically intense. I had experienced smaller ones, but could never forget the sound of tearing concrete and asphalt coming from down the street. Keep your wits about you and act fast. Get to an area in the house with a solid support structure; under a strong desk or table, along an interior wall. Running outside, as I did, is not generally advised unless it’s in the open, away from power lines and tall buildings.
– Afterwards, check for any damage in your house like the smell of leaking gas or fizzing electrical wires. Turn off the gas and all the electrical breakers if possible. Negligence can add to the growing danger of you staying there. The gas companies are well acquainted with this truth and mine was out for so long because of it.
-Having a smart phone may be just a fad to some, but they are incredibly useful in a disaster. I was able to use my iPhone to check the local news for details on what exactly had just happened, talk to family on Skype, message coworkers here in Japan as well as research some of the very advice shared here. At night when there was no power in the entire town, I used my phone as a flashlight to make my way around the house. However…
– Even smartphones run out of power and though it had been fully charged at the beginning of the day, I had not foreseen something like this happening. When the power finally went out that first night, a real sense of isolation set in. What`s more, I had no way of knowing about the tsunami or the ensuing power plant crisis. In addition to the necessity of flashlights and candles, think of investing in a portable generator. High rated models can be found on Amazon from as little as $70. Some, like the Earthquake IG800W, can run on gas and can be used to charge up mobiles, laptops and tablets.
– With no power, the house got very cold that night, so stock up on quilts, thermal sleeping bags and the like. The winter had not totally escaped that area and I slept under three layers of clothes and a jacket. A co-worker of mine offers this tip: if your gas is on, or alternatively the electricity (microwave), fill up around four 3 liter pet bottles with boiling water and keep them close to you in your bed. She says that the heat will last the night.
-That same method can also be used to provide some good warm water to clean yourself up with. (Yes)
Lastly, it`s always good to get out and going to where the people are in such cases. The next morning I left the house to find the streets in disarray, small cliffs in parking lots and the local supermarket cracked in half. I had followed the crowds to where the market clerks were giving out food and supplies, when a local business man spotted me and offered to share some of the water stored at his office. You just never know who`s ready to help.
As you most likely know, there is much more that could be shared on this topic, which we will revisit in future posts this year. Just remember, where there`s a will and foresight, there`s a way. God bless and stay safe!
– Earthquake IG800W portable generator