As you may know, since April 14th, earthquakes have occurred in the entire region of Kyushu from Kumamoto with aftershocks in many neighboring areas. For travelers and tourists that have never experienced earthquakes before, they may find it difficult to seek help if they happen to experience one here, perhaps due to language barriers and the lack of support in other languages.
So, to help you prepare in case disaster strikes, here are some tips!
Be sure to download an application that has disasters alerts. I, personally recommend ‘Yurekuru Call’, which notifies the user of an earthquake and its seismic intensity. Furthermore, the app will also provide a tsunami warning if required!
For many tourists traveling across the country, the ‘Emergency Alert’ system isn’t already installed, so this app proves very useful. Therefore, download the app, activate it by entering your location. Also, it is possible to turn the earthquake/tsunami notifications on and off as you wish in Settings.
When an earthquake strikes, ensure your own physical safety by hiding under a large and stable object such as a table, bed, or door frame. Avoid being under hanging objects on the ceiling or near anything fragile.
Lastly, make sure to leave a door open as a way to exit later in case evacuation is required.
If you are near the coastline, be aware of the likelihood of a tsunami and find a safe place on higher ground. Whenever a tsunami warning is announced, you will hear the announcement through the disaster prevention radio system or you will see police cars racing around using a loud intercom asking people to evacuate. In case, you don’t catch the word ‘tsunami’ amongst all the Japanese announcements, ask the closest person next to you immediately!
If there’s a fire in the neighborhood or you can’t find shelter immediately during an earthquake, evacuate to a large, safe open space, such as a park or empty ground.
If you are unable to return to your accommodation (due to distance or lack of transportation, etc.), then you will need to seek out the closest emergency center or evacuation shelter. The emergency shelters are usually held inside elementary, secondary or high school gymnasiums, and are fully equipped with blankets, water, food, and so on.
Stay calm so you can assess the situation and decide what to do next accordingly. Remember to have your emergency backpack with you which should include all your basic necessities such as your passport, wallet, bank card, clothes, and water.
Here are more tips on how to prepare for an earthquake. Also, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) also provides safety guides for travelers and tourists in case of an emergency complete with instructions on how to communicate with the locals using simple Japanese here.