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Journals from Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan

2012-11-25 Disaster Prevention

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Perhaps I'm not quite the right size to be a firefighter...

 It is a well-known fact that Japan is subject to several natural disasters.  Since the incident of March 11, 2011, that fact has been on many minds.  I’ve been here for less than three months, and yet I’ve experienced more earthquakes in that time than I have in the entire rest of my life.  However, I have still not been able to get used to them.  Each time one happens, I get completely thrown off-guard.  However, to Japanese people earthquakes are just part of the reality of daily life.

As time goes on, Japanese people have adapted to living in such a hazardous area.  City skyscrapers are built to sway in case of an earthquake instead of collapsing.  Safety standards have been increased to help limit the likelihood and severity of a fire.  Tsunami protection measures have become more effective as well. 

However, these disaster prevention methods are not completely foolproof, and there is always a chance of failure.  In case of such an event, it is important to know how to react and what to do.  Recently, my class took a field trip to a disaster prevention center and underwent simulations of various disasters.  We learned the emergency phone numbers (110 for police, 119 for fire trucks and ambulances) and practiced shouting, “Fire!” in Japanese (kaji da!).

To name a few of the simulations we went through, we got to practice using fire extinguishers on a fake fire and we practiced escaping from a smoke-filled building by following the emergency exit signs and made sure to close the doors behind us to help prevent the spread of fire.  We learned where the safest places to be in case of an earthquake were, and learned earthquake safety tips, such as remembering to turn off the gas if we’re cooking and to prop open the door in case the doorframe becomes bent and traps us inside the room.  We even went into a room that simulated a magnitude 7 earthquake so we could see what it felt like to go through it.  I was completely thrown around like a rag doll in that simulation, so I really hope none of the earthquakes I experience ever become so severe.

I think that Japan is a pretty nice place and I really am enjoying my time here, but I’m not sure if I can ever forget the ever-present threat of a natural disaster.  Japan is considered a pretty safe country in general, but it is still important to be prepared in case the worst happens.

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