Mar 23, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Earthquake Preparation Guide

The following information has been compiled from the US Embassy and Tokyo Metropolitan Government websites.

How to plan before a disaster

Every household should keep a survival kit with a flashlight, a radio, a first aid kit and enough food and water to last for a few days. Avoid placing heavy objects in places where they could easily fall during an earthquake and cause injury or block exits. Have a fire extinguisher and familiarize yourself with the designated evacuation area in your neighborhood.

Preparing your home before a disaster

- Secure water heaters, refrigerators and tall and heavy furniture to the walls to prevent falling.

- Move heavy items to lower shelves, and install latches or other locking devices on cabinets.

- Install flexible connections on gas appliances.

- Remove or isolate flammable materials.

- Move beds and children’s play areas away from heavy objects which may fall in an earthquake.

- Register your details at your native country’s Embassy.


Planning before a disaster

- Establish family meeting points with alternate sites inside and outside of your home for all members to gather in the event of an evacuation.

- Designate a person outside of your immediate area for separated family members to call to report their location and condition if separated.

- Learn or establish disaster policy/planning at your children’s school.

- Know your neighbors and make them aware of the number of people living in your home.-Learn where the nearest designated shelter for your neighborhood is.

- Photocopy passports and other important documents. Store copies away from home (for example, at work).

- Learn how to contact the police, fire and rescue services in Japanese.Be able to provide your address in Japanese.

- Have an earthquake kit ready for use at all times (kits can be bought at your local Tokyu Hands store).


Essential earthquake kit supplies (store enough for 3-5 days)

- Water (three liters per person a day).

- Food (canned or pre-cooked, requiring no heat or water.Consider special dietary needs, infants, the elderly, pets).

- Mobile phone with portable charger.

- ID (Passports, driving license etc. Photocopies are acceptable).

- Flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs.

- Small knife.

- Radio (battery operated with spare batteries).

- Pictures of family (so you can find them if you are separated).

- Large plastic trash bags (for trash, waste, water protection, ground cloth, temporary blanket).

- Spare clothes (including masks and gloves).

- Hand soap and/or disinfecting hand cleaner gel that does not require water.

- Feminine hygiene supplies, infant supplies, toilet paper.

- Essential medications as required; glasses if you normally wear contacts.

- Paper plates, cups, plastic utensils, cooking foil and plastic wrap (wrapped around plates so that they were re-usable) and paper towels

- First Aid kit with instructions.

- Yen in small bills (ATMs may not work after a disaster), with coins and phone cards for public phones.

- Place emergency supplies and your telephone in places where they are less likely to be knocked over or buried by falling objects (on the floor under a strong table is a good choice).

- Towels (about 5).

earthquake kit


What to do during a disaster

Falling objects, toppling furniture and panic present the greatest dangers during an earthquake. Try to protect yourself under a table or doorway. Do not run outside, and try to remain as calm as possible. If you are in the streets, try to find protection from glass and other objects that may fall from surrounding buildings.

- Open windows/doors to secure exits.

- Put your things at the entrance.

- Take shelter under a sturdy table.

- Close the main tap (gas).

- In case of a power failure, shut down the circuit breaker (unplug everything before you do this, if possible).

- Be prepared for the tremors to continue for 24 hours.

Earthquake table


When evacuating

- Stay away from: cabinets, refrigerators, bent walls, leaning poles, narrow streets, bodies of water.

- Watch out for broken glass.-Move to higher ground if you are located near the ocean.

- Wear a helmet or hat.

- Wear a mask or cover mouth with damp towel.

- Go toward the wind in case of fire.

- Stop driving, park at the side of the street.

- If you have a car, open windows and turn on radio at full sound.

evacuation items

What to do after a disaster

After a strong earthquake, turn off ovens, stoves and the main gas valve. Then listen to the radio or television for news. In coastal areas beware of possible tidal waves (tsunami) while in mountainous areas beware of possible land slides.

- Check your immediate surroundings for fire, gas leaks, broken glass and other hazards.

- Open doors and/or windows to avoid being locked in if there are after-shocks.

- Contact one friend or relative from your home country, and ask them to inform other parties of your situation.

- Monitor local TV and radio for evacuation information (If available in your area, for English info, listen to AFN 810AM).

- Take advantage of online communication services such as Skype, Twitter and Facebook.

- Emergency message board dial 171.

- Leave phone calls to a minimum (to preserve battery life).


Emergency Contact Advice

Using public phones

Connection of public phones are prioritized during natural disasters.
They can be used for free (excluding international calls)

How to make a call for free:

- Green analog public phones
Press the emergency button, or insert a 10 yen coin. Your coin will be returned after the call.

- Digital public phones
No card/cash necessary, just pick up the receiver.


Emergency message board

1. Dial 171
2. Press 1
3. Dial home phone
4. Record message

1. Dial 171
2. Press 2
3. Dial victim’s number
4. Play recorded message


SOS Emergency Numbers

Police: 110
Ambulance/Fire Department: 119
In case of emergency near the sea: 118 (Japan Coast Guard)


Google Person Finder

Register with Google Person Finder to help reconnect with loved ones after the events of a natural disaster.


*For further information on earthquake preparation, please visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website (in English).

*Please visit our forum if you have any further questions or concerns.

Earthquake Survival ManualDownload the earthquake survival manual

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