What to do when there’s a typhoon coming your way
So you have just found out that there is a typhoon heading your way while in Japan. What do you do? Panic? Scream? Wait…why is no-one else around you panicking?
IF you are in Japan for either the rugby world cup or the Olympics, welcome to a very diverse and beautiful country. This is a what if guild, so if here, please note.
Firstly advice, it’s mostly likely nothing to worry about- I’m happy to say that the monstrous devistation you see in movies is usually played up- that’s not to say they can’t happen the same way. You need to be prepared.
Firstly, what type of typhoon is it? On the Japanese meteorological agency website (in English) there are the following categories for typhoons:
- TY: Typhoon
- STS: Severe Tropical Storm
- TS: Tropical Storm
- TD: Tropical Depression
- LOW: Extra-tropical Low
My advice is be careful about anything over TS, the others are more than likely not to be cause for concern (they can become stronger).
Additionally, have you ever heard of “PPPPPPP”? It means:
Prior preparation and planning prevents p*** poor performace
There’s a disaster coming so what have you done about it? Do you know where the local refuge areas are? Have you prepaired anything in case it becomes a level 5 emergency? No, well let’s make a start.
The where- Refuge areas
There are different types to be aware of. The most basic is a temporary evacuation site- which is often organised by the local community. It is a good place to meet up for ‘smaller’ disasters in order to assess the situation.
Open evacuation sites are designated places by the ward or city that people will go to if the temporary one is either dangerous or inaccessible. There is often help available here and they are either in Tsumani or earthquake resistant buildings- expect to be here for around a day.
Finally, evacuation shelters- this is for the longer stay. This is used if a persons’ home is unsafe or non-existent.
Please note, in coastal areas there are more specialised Tsunami evacuation areas, please take note of what disaster is heading your way (if for some reason you do not know).
One last thing on the where, mate sure you know where the where is or in other words where is your nearest refuge area and how far do you have to travel on foot/ bike. There is no carparking at emergency facilities and there is a possibility that the roads would be unusable anyways.
The what- belongings
I would recommend preparing a bug out bag and keep it in a safe place. Inside should be 3 days of emergency food and water (think calorie mate for food) and at least 6 l of water per person (which is a lot I know). Additionally, there should be a change of clothes, toiletries , important papers (passport and residence card), a flash light, batteries, a wind up radio, mobile/cell phone charger, a knife, and money at a minimum!
More could be packed (and should be if you have a real need for it) but remember space at a shelter is at a premium and you may have to run while carrying everything you need.
The time- what to do when leaving
So, all the warning signs have proven true- DO NOT PANIC. What to do when leaving?
- Collect emergency info from JMA/ TV/ radio to see what has been recommended (caution, standby, evacuation etc)
If leaving, please note the following
- Turn off all gas
- Protect yourself from falling objects internally and externally
- Keep away from large objects that may fall on top of you.
- Gather everyone one in one place with the bug-out bag
- calmly go to the refuge centre (if needed)
If evacuation has not been recommended
- fill the bathtub with water
- have an emergency light source to had
- keep everyone safe
- prepare in case of evacuation
The type of warning
Finally, the type of wanrning. You may have noticed that I refer to warnings in English and not Japanese, alas in Japanese it is sightly different. But at the base level, there are: advisory, warnings, and emergency warnings. If there is an emergency warning, there will be a broadcast over the emergency warning system, updates on that ward/cities website declaring an emeergency and usually warning messages sent out by text.
No matter the level, be cautious- they are NOT sent out for the fun of it.
No matter what, please be safe and happy exploring.
For further reading, please check out the JMA website in English at: