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Is Your Disaster Preparedness Alright?

Joaquin is enjoying life as an exchange student at a Japanese high school. One day, when returning home, Machiko, his host mother, calls out to him on the front steps.

Is Your Disaster Preparedness Alright?

Machiko

Tonight, because we plan to hold a family disaster-preparedness meeting, we would like you to attend.

Joaquin

A disaster-preparedness meeting?

Machiko

Here in Japan, we have designated September 1st as "Disaster-Preparedness Day". Furthermore, for a week from August 30th, we have "Disaster-Preparedness Week". Because it represents a good opportunity, in this family we also like to get together to discuss what we should do in terms of disaster preparedness. This is because if a disaster were to happen, it would be better to act without panicking.

Joaquin

That sounds like a good idea. Moreover, in that I possess little knowledge about disaster preparedness myself, I would be very grateful if I could learn. By the way, what sorts of things are discussed at a disaster- preparedness meeting?

Machiko

For example, we take the opportunity to confirm what is kept in this backpack as emergency equipment, etc.

Joaquin

Oh, I see! I was always wondering why that backpack was left at the front door. So it has been left there just in case a disaster occurs?

Machiko

Yes, we call it an emergency bag. It contains items that would be necessary if we were ever required to make an emergency evacuation from the house. Here is a checklist of the items that the backpack contains.

Joaquin

Medical supplies, a torch, a radio. I see; everything contained in the backpack are items that would become necessities in the event of the unexpected.

Machiko

That is correct. The backpack also contains something to drink and something to eat. At a minimum, we have to have provisions for three days of supplies.

Joaquin

I see. That is because it might take some time until rescue arrives? As such you have to prepare a minimum of three days' worth of necessary items for each family member.

As Joaquin is discussing this topic, he begins to feel uneasy about what he should do if a disaster struck while he was outside the home.

Joaquin

What if an earthquake were to strike on a weekday during the day, how would members of this family meet up with one another? We are all over the place; some of us are working and some of us are at school.

Machiko

Thinking about that issue is actually the main purpose of holding a family disaster-preparedness meeting. For example, if something were to happen when we are apart from one another, which evacuation site should we meet at? How should we go about contacting one another? Sorting out such issues in advance would give you greater peace of mind. Don't you think so?

Joaquin

Yes, that would be reassuring. I am also inclined to believe that mobile phones and e-mail might not connect either.

Machiko

During "Disaster-Preparedness Week", you can actually get hands-on experience using the Disaster Emergency Message Dial and the Disaster Message Board systems which are valuable when confirming each other's well-being. Let's make time and try out these services together.

Joaquin

Once we have decided upon the evacuation site where we should meet up as a family, I would like to go there once.

Machiko

You mean confirming the route of evacuation? We should also confirm the route that you take when walking home from school, and the location of support stations for people returning home during times of disaster.

Joaquin

What are these "support stations for people returning home during times of disaster"?

Machiko

They are locations such as convenience stores, fast food outlets, family restaurants and gas stations that display a special certification sticker. During times of disaster, they will provide water and toilet facilities to those people who are trying to get home. They will also be able to tell you information such as what roads within the immediate area are passable, etc.

Joaquin

That would really help me out if I was trying to get home. I will have to make an effort to remember their location.

Machiko

Let's also participate in the local disaster-preparedness drills that are coming up. In that they hold drills based upon actual disasters; I believe participating in them might be very valuable.

Joaquin

Yes, I would like to experience a number of different things while preparing for the unexpected.