Japan is a country that is no stranger to natural disasters, which is why making sure you have emergency kits ready to go for all members of your family at all times is a great way to make sure you’re able to survive in the case of a sudden disaster.
For many Japanese people, it is common to keep at least one at home and one in your car (some people even keep one in the office).
However, for many of us who aren’t from natural disaster-prone countries, figuring out what to pack and where to find everything can be a big hassle—but a necessary one.
What Should You Pack?
Non-Perishable Food Items
Packing non-perishable food is a no-brainer; however, if you aren’t the most familiar with Japanese products, you may be wondering what non-perishable products to pack. One of the most common snack foods found in Japanese evacuation packs is probably Bisco—a long-lasting biscuit snack, great for making sure you have something sweet to enjoy. However, the most common items are tinned and packaged foods that don’t require heating up, dehydrated foods and instant ramen.
Another must when it comes to packing is water. If you can, try buying an expandable canteen bottle, so you know you’ll have access to at least several days’ worth of water (you should have at least a week’s worth of water per person).
Portable Stove & Gas Cylinders
A portable stove is a central item for any escape pack. Not only does it make being in a difficult situation a little better, but it can also help prevent illness and infection. Especially if you don’t have access to rubbing alcohol, as sterilising over fire may be your only option.
It also means you can enjoy a hot meal without risking food poisoning, so make sure you don’t miss out on this one!
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Basic First Aid Kit & Prescription Medicine
Unfortunately, you never know what will happen during a natural disaster, which is why it is essential to pack at least a basic first aid kit. From burns to cuts, make sure you’ve got everything you need to combat infection until you can see a medical professional.
And, if you’re someone who relies on a regular prescription, make sure to pack an emergency supply.
Important Documents & Money
This is something that often slips many people’s minds when preparing an emergency backpack. Since important documents are often taken out and used quite often, it’s not unusual to forget to pack them. However, this is very important—especially if you are a foreign resident—as it may just make returning home ten times more difficult in an already difficult situation.
Another important thing to pack is emergency cash. In case of a large natural disaster, you should assume both banks and ATMs will be unavailable and pack accordingly. Make sure to pack both bills and coins, just in case you need to use a payphone!
Portable Toilet & Toiletries
As with many natural disasters, water pipes usually are disrupted, meaning that people are cut off from a reliable water supply. In that case, you should have with you a portable toilet and a few toiletries, including a pack of wet wipes and sanitiser to make sure that anything you put in your mouth (e.g. toothbrushes, cutlery etc.) is properly sanitised. And if you’re stuck inside, a portable toilet can you maintain a more sanitary environment.
In the case of an extremely large-scale disaster, it may not be possible to rely on modern modes of communication such as the internet or television, which means you may need to rely on your trusty radio.
Make sure not to forget to pack a small portable radio so you don’t miss out on any possibly life-saving communications!
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Just like the internet, it may be the case that you are left without access to electricity, so make sure to pack an emergency lamp so you can see at night. If possible, invest in a solar-powered or kinetic-powered lamp to ensure that you can continue to use it without dependency on batteries.
Another few things you should be sure to pack are rope, some work gloves, a small pocket knife and batteries (including a portable charger). These might be handy if you need to build a temporary shelter!
Despite the fact that the warmer months in Japan generally bring warm nights, it’s best not to rely on the hope of warmer nights during a natural disaster—especially seeing as some diasters can impact the weather! Make sure to pack warm clothes and at least one change of clothing, including multiple pairs of socks (if your socks get wet, it may lead to more serious issues such as trench foot).
If you can, pack some leather gloves to protect your hands from injury as they are more susceptible to infection, and keep a helmet and some sturdy athletic shoes near your bed to avoid stepping on broken glass.
Another great item to pack is a foil blanket. Not only does it take up little space, but it’s very light and provides a great deal of warmth considering its size!
Where to Find Supplies for Your Emergency Kits
If you head down to any shop specialising in outdoor gear or camping supplies, you are sure to find a lot of the stuff you need for your emergency pack.
However, a few shops are great for those who want to save some money or don’t want the hassle of having to hop from shop to shop looking for the right supplies.
Although Daiso may not have the best quality, it is cheap and (…mostly) reliable. And while I don’t recommend buying the very important items for your emergency pack from here, it’s a great place to get your hands on a few basic items for a good price. You can find headlights, canned food and basic camp gear here for only a couple hundred yen!
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Amazon Japan is the obvious choice for those looking to stay safe with minimum effort. While it may be cheaper, cost-wise, to explore isles of places like Daiso and CanDo, if you want to avoid the hassle of having to put together your own pack and you don’t mind spending the extra cash, why not try buying a ready-made evacuation backpack?
Although Kohnan is a home improvement store, they have a whole section dedicated to helping you prepare your evacuation backpack. From portable toilets to helmets, they’ve got everything you need to make sure you’re safe in the event of a natural disaster.
Although this store was created with industrial workwear in mind, it has since expanded its range to include things from comfortable and affordable everyday clothing to camping gear. Its cheap price range and quality goods have made it a fan favourite. And although they may not have a special section dedicated to emergency supplies, it’s the perfect place to pick up some general gear at a good price.
Prepare Your Emergency Kits in Advance!
If you want to give yourself the best chance of surviving a large natural disaster, the best way to do that is to prepare, and that includes preparing everything you need to survive without the basics!
Have you begun packing your emergency bag yet?
(If you’d like more information on packing an emergency evacuation backpack, you can check out NHK’s video on the subject here.)
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