Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are You Ready for an Earthquake?

For advice (in Japanese) about how you can help victims, go here: http://ameblo.jp/sakurayama-life/entry-10830678828.html

To make a donation (in Japanese), go here: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/feature/eq2011/bokin.htm?from=ytop

Luckily, Osaka wasn't affected by the big earthquake that struck Japan on Friday. It's strange how life seems completely unchanged in Osaka but when you turn on the TV you see images that you'd expect to see in some disaster movie. What I find stranger is the number of people who spent the weekend watching the disaster on TV but who did nothing to prepare for the same thing happening here.

Are you ready for a major earthquake in Osaka? Is your home safe in an earthquake? Do you know what to do in an earthquake? Do you know what to do after an earthquake? Do you have an emergency pack ready for after an earthquake? If your answer to any of these questions is "no," than do something about it now!

Is your home safe in an earthquake?

1) Make sure exits from your building are not blocked. Bicycles parked near exits will fall over, making it difficult for you to get out quickly in an emergency. (But DON'T try to get out during an actual earthquake – see below!)

2) Kitchens are especially dangerous. Make sure all your glassware is behind doors.

We use child locks to make sure our kitchen cupboards won't open in an earthquake

3) Make sure all tall/heavy furniture is secure.
Braces to stop our kitchen cabinet from falling over

Do you know what to do in an earthquake?

1) DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE! Many people are injured by tiles & pieces of buildings falling on them while they are trying to exit the building.

2) DO NOT USE ELEVATORS! Elevators often stop working after an earthquake. If it's a big earthquake, it could be days before anyone can rescue you.

3) GET UNDER COVER! Many injuries are caused by falling furniture, lights, and pieces of concrete dropping out of the ceiling. Get under a table or bed. Hold onto one of the legs so that it doesn't move away from you. However, if you have a piano, do not get under it – those legs are not as strong as they look.

4) If there is no strong table near you, crouch against an inside wall or stand in a doorway. In a strong earthquake, the door can move around a lot. Lean against it so that it doesn't hit you.

5) Do not look out the window. Last Friday, workers in the building opposite Be & Me actually ran to the windows of their office and leaned up against them to get a better view of what was happening outside. If windows break, you get cut. If you're leaning against them on the 4th floor, you fall four floors to the concrete below before getting showered with broken glass!

Do you know what to do after an earthquake?

As soon as the earthquake is over, go to your front door and make sure you can open it. Leave it open. Do not go outside unless you think your building is in danger of collapsing or you are told to by someone in authority (police, fire fighters, etc.). Turn off your gas and any heaters or stoves.

Mayumi's sister lives in Saitama. Her husband works in Tokyo. On Friday, the earthquake hit at about 2:45 pm but she could not contact him until 11:00 pm. Your phones will not work after a major earthquake. You need to make a meeting plan with your family now. We have a 3-point meeting plan – first, we go to our son's school; next, our home; and finally, our local emergency evacuation area. We have visited our local evacuation area and chosen a place to meet there. Do you know where your local evacuation area is? Do you have a meeting plan? Talk to your family now!

If you are trapped in your home after an earthquake...
  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Do you have an emergency pack?

After a major earthquake, it could be 2 or 3 days before the government can start helping you. You need to be ready to look after yourself during this time. Our family has emergency back packs in our entranceway (genkan). If we have to evacuate, we can grab them on the way out the door.
Our emergency packs are always next to the front door

Your emergency pack should contain the following...

*Flashlight (electricity may be cut off)
*Radio – battery operated
*Cell-phone recharger (battery or hand-powered)
*Whistle (to call for help)
*Dust masks (there will be a lot of dust in the air from damaged buildings. A lot of this dust contains dangerous chemicals)
*Pocket knife
*Space blanket
*Work gloves (you may need to move broken concrete, glass, etc.)
*Emergency cash (small notes & coins)
*Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, clean underwear & socks, a rain coat, and a warm hat/sun hat
*Water (2 litres/person/day – that's 6 kilograms of water per person! Test carrying your bag before there's an earthquake. If it's too heavy, leave some of the water in a separate bag in the entranceway so you can come back for it if you really need to.)
*Food (we use muesli bars. They are light, long lasting, & relatively high in nutrition & energy.)
*Toilet paper (TOILET PAPER!)
*Garbage bags (for the used toilet paper, etc – when you gotta go, you gotta go!)
*First Aid Kit (bandages, pain killers, diarrhoea medicine, antiseptic, etc.)
*Any special medicine you may need (prescription medicine you may take for heart condition, asthma, etc.)
*List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
*List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
*Copy of health insurance and identification cards
*Extra eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
*Toothbrush and toothpaste
*Any special-needs items for children, old people & pets

To be honest, our emergency packs don't contain everything I've listed above, but anything is better than nothing! If you don't have an emergency pack, make one today!

Click here for more information in Japanese: http://www.tokyo-icc.jp/guide/kinkyu/05.html

By the way, You can buy pre-made emergency packs from shops like Tokyu Hands. If you don't have the time to make your own pack, you should go there today.

How can we help those already affected?

Many people are wondering how they can help those people already affected by the earthquake. The short answer is "SEND MONEY!" But be careful who you send money to! Most of the banks & newspapers have set up special accounts for donations. I think you can trust them. Yesterday, I passed 2 people on the street collecting money in a bucket. Who were they? Maybe they were good people, but maybe they weren't. Also, don't trust people who ask for money through e-mails & the internet. They may be good people but ... ?

To make a donation (in Japanese), go here: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/feature/eq2011/bokin.htm?from=ytop

Mayumi has a friend who lives in the disaster area. He has written (in Japanese) about how you can help on his Blog. Go to: http://ameblo.jp/sakurayama-life/entry-10830678828.html to find out more.

To be prepared is to be safe! Stay safe!

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