Bosai: Preparing for Disasters and What to Do When They Happen

  • HOW TO
  • The word bosai may have a broad meaning, but it is most commonly associated with disaster preparedness and taking actions when such catastrophes strike. This word is taught to children at an early age and the government regularly conducts public awareness campaigns and earthquake drills around September 1, which is also the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.


    In September 2015, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government released a new bosai handbook called Tokyo Bosai to bolster disaster education among the public. The book contains a list of products for emergencies and practical survival tips with a direct statement that the probability of a major earthquake hitting Tokyo in the next 30 years is 70%.

    Bosai Goods: What Emergency Products to Buy


    The most basic products listed in the bosai handbook include water, portable gas cooking stove, canister, over-the-counter medicines, emergency toilet, rechargeable flashlight, batteries, and radio, plastic bags and wraps.

    Special bosai goods that are readily available in the market include long-life bottled water and freeze-dried foods such as canned bread, and self-heating meals. There is also inflatable bedding, space blankets and to keep you warm and toiletries that could be used without running water.

    Double sided sticky pads are also recommended to keep furniture from falling while helmets and hoods are basic safety requirements for falling debris. Radios and flashlights in one with built-in generators to charge the batteries using the crank can also be used to charge your mobile phones in just several windings. There are also LED lanterns that run on salt water for 8 hours.

    Practical Guides to Increase the Chances of Survival


    Here are some of the practical survival tips according to the handbook Tokyo Bosai.

    1. Residents should buy more everyday products and keep them in their stockpile rather than keeping foods sold as bosai goods. In short, it is better to keep your cupboards full and incorporate preparing for disaster as part of your daily living.
    2. Learn to use common items to substitute for unavailable goods. For example, you can use newspapers to insulate your body from the cold.
    3. With a little use of imagination, manholes in special parks that are directly connected to the sewer may be used as toilets with the use of covers such as tents.
    4. Park benches may be used in lieu of a cooking stove by removing the seating.
    5. In case the basic services are cut off, there are solar powered lights and manual water pumps to be used in the park.

    For a more detailed practical tips, you can access the Tokyo Bosai handbook for free here.

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