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Safety and Disaster Preparedness: Earthquakes

Earthquake Countermeasures

1. Earthquakes in Kyoto

In terms of large-scale earthquakes, it is expected that the many fault lines in Kyoto Prefecture, such as the Hanaore fault and Nara Basin Toen fault, will cause inland earthquakes. There is also a high probability of large damage occurring from a Tonankai-Nankai earthquake predicted to take place at sea.

2. Earthquake Countermeasures

(1) If you are at home

First, move under a table or desk to protect your body. Calmly extinguish any fires, if possible. Protect children and the elderly. If the power supply is suspended due to the earthquake, switch off the circuit breaker. When the power is restored, check the safety of your appliances before you switch the circuit breaker back on.

(2) If you are in a department store

Guard your head with your bag or a similar object and stand near a wall or pillar. Stay away from glass and display shelving. Evacuate according to the directions of those in charge.

(3) If you are on a train or bus

The train or bus may stop suddenly. Hold on to a strap or rail. Follow the instructions of the crew.

(4) If you are in a built-up area

Don’t stop moving, and guard your head with your bag or a similar object until you have reached a safe area. Don’t go near vending machines or the walls of buildings.

(5) If you are in a theater or hall

Crouch down between the seats. Guard your head with your bag. Evacuate according to the directions of the ushers.

(6) If you are driving

Slow down gradually and stop the car on the left-hand side of the road. If you exit your car, leave your key in the ignition and don’t lock the door.

(7) If there is a danger of a tsunami

Stay away from the coast and rivers, and evacuate to higher ground as quickly as possible.

3. Earthquake Countermeasures in the Household

(1) Family Antidisaster Meeting

Earthquakes occur suddenly. If you prepare for the worst, you will  not regret it. You should hold a family meeting monthly, and discuss household antidisaster measures as well as responses and means to protect yourself in the event of an earthquake.

(2) Checklist for family antidisaster meeting

  • Make sure of each of your roles.
  • Consider the layout of your furniture and means to prevent it falling.
  • Ascertain the dangerous areas inside and outside of your house.
  • Check the use-by date of the items for emergency situations and replace them if necessary.
  • Confirm refuge points in the event of a disaster, for example, a school, park, etc.
  • Confirm points of contact in the event of a disaster, for example, distant relatives or the ’NTT 171 Dial.’

(3) Dangers inside the house

Preventing objects from falling

  • Do not put too much weight on shelves/chests of drawers.
  • Put weighty objects for storage in lockers or bookshelves at a low level and light objects at a higher level.
  • Place furniture such as book shelves, cupboards, and chests of drawers in a position whereby they can be directly fixed to walls or pillars by using metal L-brackets, etc. Try to prevent things like television sets and computers from falling, by fixing them in place with adhesive tape, or tying them to posts or pillars with a belt, etc.

Fire prevention

  • Periodically check the operation of the automatic extinguisher in heating appliances.
  • Regulate the area around heating appliances and use fire-resistant curtains to help prevent fires.


  • Don’t put large pieces of  furniture in bedrooms, children’s rooms or the rooms of the elderly.
  • To prevent the shattering of windows and cabinets place a layer of film over them.

4. Emergency Items

Category one items are to be taken with you in an evacuation as a result of an earthquake. As a rough standard, an adult male’s share is 15 kg, and an adult female’s share is 10 kg. The items should be dispersed across multiple rucksacks in case the family members should be separated.

Category two items are for self-sufficiency until recovery from the earthquake is complete. The standard is the amount needed to last a family 3 days.

Ascertain other necessary items according to particular family needs.

Category one items

  • Valuables: cash, deed for house, bankbook, driving license, health insurance card, etc
  • Emergency provisions: canned food, mineral water
  • Medical articles: adhesive tape, salve, bandages, digestion medicine, analgesic, etc
  • Clothes: underwear, outer layers, towels, etc.
  • Radio, spare batteries
  • Lights: flashlight, candle, match, lighter, spare battery, etc.
  • Others: drugs, tampons, body warmer packs. If a baby is present: milk, diapers, etc.

Category two items

  • Food: rice, canned goods, instant foods, spices, tableware, cooking utensils, can opener, bottle opener, etc.
  • Water: drinking water (3 liters per person per day, boiling required), water for living (bathing and washing)
  • Fuel: portable cooking stove, solid fuel, etc (enough gas stock is required for portable cooking stove)

5. Dangers outside house

  • Fix propane gas cylinders with chains
  • Repair damaged block or stone walls.
    *Block walls with no foundations (over 30 cm) or reinforcing bar are dangerous.
  • Repair unstable antennas and tiles on roof.
  • Carefully arrange the placement of outdoor flowerpots so they are in a location with a minimal danger of falling.

6. Create a house resistant to earthquakes through reinforcements and repairs

How strong is your house against earthquakes? Carry out an analysis and strengthen it!

(1) Strong Foundations

Use foundations made with reinforced concrete fixed with bolts.

(2) Repair of corroded parts

Replace corroded parts and parts eaten by termites.

(3) Attach metal fittings

Strengthen joints such as foundations, poles, beams, etc, with metal fittings.

(4) Strong walls

Increase the strength of walls with plywood, increase the amount of walls, and check that they are well-balanced.

7. Local measures against earthquakes

When a large-scale earthquake occurs, municipal disaster prevention activities may not always run smoothly owing to bad conditions. Autonomous disaster prevention activities by local residents such as fire fighting, victim rescue, and evacuation are essential to prevent and reduce damage. Form an ’autonomous disaster prevention organization’ in your area to carry out disaster prevention training.

8. Ten points for your safety in the event of an earthquake

(1) First, protect yourself

Your life is the most important thing. When an earthquake occurs, protect yourself first.

(2) Put out any fires and do not panic

Put out any fires emanating from cooking and heating equipment with the assistance of other people. If you rush to put out cooking fires,  implements may fall on you and cause injury. Wait for the shaking to stop before calmly extinguishing any flames.

(3) Make sure of your emergency exits

In buildings made with reinforced concrete the building may become warped whilst the door is closed, and subsequently the door cannot be opened.

(4) When fires occur, put them out immediately

Put out fires at once in cooperation with your neighbors before they spread to the ceiling.

(5) Stay calm if you escape outside

If you escape outside, be cautious of falling tiles and glass and do not panic.

(6) Don’t move towards narrow streets, walls, precipices and river banks.

Be aware of objects that may fall easily such as block walls, gateposts or automatic vending machines.

(7) Be cautious of landslides and tsunamis

If you experience an earthquake in mountainous or coastal areas, evacuate immediately.

(8) Evacuate on foot with minimum luggage

Evacuate to refuge on foot. Don’t use cars or motorbikes.

(9) Provide emergency aid in cooperation with others

Help each other, including the aged people, the handicapped, the injured, etc.

(10) Look out for reliable information

Don’t get drawn in by groundless rumors, and obtain reliable information from radio and TV.