Safety

Information for your safety in Ibaraki and Japan.

Contents

  1. Emergencies
  2. Embassy Registration
  3. Disasters

Emergencies

Police: 110

Fire and Ambulance: 119

For immediate emergencies, contact the appropriate authorities using the phone numbers above. To avoid delay, it may be best to have a Japanese-speaker make the call. In all cases, do not forget to provide the following information before hanging up: nameaddress, and phone number.


Embassy Registration

Whenever anyone is away from their home country, it is essential that they register with their country’s embassy. An embassy may be able to get information back to the home country the fastest when a natural disaster or emergency occurs. Visit the appropriate link below to register online.

Registrations should be updated prior to any overseas trip, including when returning home


Disasters

Earthquakes

Japan is a country with many earthquakes (地震, jishin)–the Great East Japan Earthquake being the largest in recorded Japanese history. Both minor and sizable tremors occur everyday, and it is impossible to know exactly when the next major quake will strike, so it is vital to always be prepared.

震度 (Shindo) Scale

Japan uses the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) seismic intensity scale, sometimes referred to as the 震度 (shindo) scale. It is a measure of the degree of shaking at a point on the Earth’s surface, and it usually differs from the moment of magnitude (a.k.a. Richter) scale used in other seismological readings. Below is a visual guide to the scale as published by Niigata Prefecture.

Shindo Seismic Intensity Scale

Earthquake Preparation

Before an earthquake: Prepare a getaway kit. Make sure that household items are secure and stable in your home. Know the locations of evacuation centers in your area.

During an earthquake: Duck and cover, get under a strong desk or doorway, and protect your head from falling objects. In public places, move away from display stands and things that can shatter/break. Stay inside, as the external walls of buildings are most dangerous–windows, fittings, and roof tiles can break and fall. When driving, pull over and stop, but do not get out of the vehicle.

After an earthquake: Turn off all appliances and utilities that have potential to ignite a fire. Open a door and secure it open with something heavy. Follow the directions of town officials. Contact your embassy to let them know about your condition. Contact your Block Leader and/or a Prefectural Advisor to let them know about your condition. If your home is badly damaged, proceed to the nearest evacuation shelter. Take your getaway kit.

If you want more information, please view the Niigata Prefecture’s English earthquake safety pamphlet.

You can also find the latest earthquake reports by visiting the Yahoo! Japan 地震情報 (Earthquake Information) page (Japanese only) or the United States Geological Survey’s Earthquakes page.

Typhoon

Rainy season on the main island of Japan usually starts in the middle of June and lasts for about six weeks. Typhoon (台風, taifuu) season, on the other hand, usually starts in late August and last for roughly eight weeks. Most typhoons originating the Pacific Ocean weaken to tropical storms by the time they reach Ibaraki Prefecture, so although it can be extremely windy and rainy, it is unlikely to do much aside from blowing a few trees down.

In the event of an actual typhoon striking the area, your school may declare a “typhoon day” on which students will not be required to attend school. If you hear about an incoming typhoon:

  • Secure or bring inside any items that may fly around in strong winds.
  • Close storm shutters if you have them.
  • Prepare for a day at home; buy food, water, etc. in order to wait out the storm.
  • If you walk/cycle to school, find out prior to leaving if it is safe to do so.

Avoid going outside in the middle of a typhoon unless it is absolutely necessary. Even an umbrella or water-proof clothing may not be able to protect you under such circumstances.

For the latest weather information:

  • Yahoo! Japan 天気・災害 (Japanese only): the most accurate weather and disaster information, including typhoon warnings
  • Weather Underground: animated radar maps and smart phone enabled, available in multiple languages with custom settings
  • WeatherNews (Japanese only): video weather forecasts and interactive maps, good for 花見 (hanami, flower-viewing) and 花火 (hanabi, fireworks) weather information

Tsunami

A tsunami (津波), or tidal wave, is a risk after an earthquake occurs in coastal areas or in the middle of the ocean. A tsunami may also be caused by undersea landslides or other disturbances to the ocean floor. The resulting tsunamis after the Great East Japan Earthquake reached Ibaraki and nearby prefectures, causing severe damage and loss of life. If you hear a tsunami warning:

  • Turn on your radio and follow instructions.
  • Take your getaway kit if you are told to evacuate.
  • Leave the area quickly if you are on a beach or near a river.
  • Go as far inland and as high above sea level as possible.

Do not linger near low-lying coastal areas especially if you hear a tsunami warning or feel a large earthquake. Warnings are usually blasted on city-wide public address systems, on the radio, on television, and also on the Yahoo! Japan 津波情報 (Tsunami Information) page (Japanese only).

Tornado

Although very rare, tornadoes (竜巻, tatsumaki) have been known to occur in the southern and western regions of Ibaraki Prefecture. Due to geographical features, these areas along with Tochigi and Saitama Prefectures are the likeliest places for a tornado to touch down.

Tornadoes are usually preceded by rather large storms, though not always so. Keep an eye out for low-hanging clouds and a funnel-like formation. If this occurs, seek shelter immediately. If a tornado is forming, it does not need much time to touch down.

  • Immediately get to the lowest floor in your building. An underground space is ideal, but the ground floor is the best alternative especially in Japan where basements are nearly non-existent.
  • Avoid windows and glass fixtures. Even the smallest windows can shatter and scatter dangerous debris.
  • Find the most interior and enclosed space possible, and crouch near the most interior corner. Walls are fine, but corners are the strongest brace points.
  • Cover your neck and head to avoid debris. Underneath stairwells is a good place to avoid falling and flying objects.
  • If you are in a vehicle, seek alternative shelter. Cars can be tossed around, and while driving away may seem like a good idea, other forms of debris can come from large distances.
  • Worst case scenario, crouch in a trench or a ditch. Do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge. Find the lowest space possible and brace yourself.

As with other natural disasters, do not go outside until the tornado has passed completely. Assess any damage and tread lightly to avoid hazards that may have fallen or been strewn about.

Nuclear

Ibaraki Prefecture is home to many nuclear energy facilities, mostly located along the northeastern coast, with the most prominent being in Tokai Mura (東海村). If a nuclear emergency occurs:

  • Stay inside. Do not go outside unless directed to do so.
  • In the case of evacuations, follow the directions of local officials.
  • Take your getaway kit and a change of clothes.

Niigata Prefecture has published an English-language Nuclear Disaster Preparedness Guide, with explanations about nuclear disasters, radiation exposure, and evacuation procedures.

Getaway Kit

The “getaway kit” is an emergency survival kit that should be prepared for every household. It should be kept well-stocked and monitored for expired goods. It is recommended that each kit include the following items:

  • 3 liters of clean water per person per day
  • three-day supply of canned/dried food
  • can opener or utility knife
  • first aid kit and medicines
  • waterproof flashlights and spare batteries
  • radio and spare batteries
  • spare clothing (wind-/rain-proof)
  • string shoes (shoes with laces)
  • plastic bags
  • toilet paper
  • blankets and sleeping bags
  • small gas cooker and matches
  • official documents (passport, IDs, insurance, etc.)
  • cash (at least 30,000JPY)

Place the getaway kit in an easy-to-reach place, and have an emergency escape plan with this kit in mind.