September 1st every year in Japan is Disaster Prevention Day or bōsai no hi (防災の日). On this day, Japanese citizens, and the government, practice and simulate a natural disaster. It’s actually part of Disaster Prevention Week (bōsai shūkan 防災週間) which raises public awareness. On Japanese TV, you can see the Prime Minister rehearsing a disaster speech reminding citizens to stay calm and so on. Children in Japan will usually be let out early that day, so parents can pick them up (practicing evacuation). Even before the Great Tohoku Earthquake, Japan has had plenty of natural disasters, so I think Disaster Prevention Day is a brilliant idea.
But anywhere you live, there are plenty of natural disasters. Here in Seattle, we face risk of earthquakes and tsunamis too.1 People have to deal with hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc. in other places.
Recently, I signed up at work to be a safety “lead” at my office building for my floor. This means that in the event of a disaster, or medical emergency, I (and other leads) have to help get people out of the building, contact emergency services, etc. Because of this, I got some training in first-aid and how to prepare for disasters. It’s interesting to learn all the ways to prepare for a disaster. In fact, preparing for disasters is pretty easy.
In the US, we have the “3 days 3 ways” campaign to help people prepare for disasters. Sometimes the government cannot respond fast enough. Some disasters are just too big. So, it’s a good idea prepare your home and work for a disaster so you can be comfortable until government help arrives.
One of the best things you can do is a make an emergency kit, both at home and at work. This includes simple things like having enough water, some food that will last a long time, basic medical supplies, blankets, underwear and some money. Our family has a kit at home and some water for each person. I also have some extra food and water in my drawer at work too.
Also, make sure you have a plan for your family. Some place you can meet, how to contact each other, etc. When the Great Tohoku Earthquake happened in Japan, my wife tried to call her family and couldn’t reach them for a long time. They were not in the earthquake area, but the phone lines were too busy. It happens, so be prepared.
Anyhow, the lesson from Disaster Prevention Day and 3 Days 3 Ways, is to spend a little time preparing for disasters. It doesn’t take much, but it’s important to start preparing now. You never know when something could happen, and life is pretty fragile.
1 Seattle is long overdue for a major earthquake, and downtown is not on stable soil. I definitely worry about that day.