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Prepare for an Earthquake

Small earthquakes occur occasionally in Sendai. You should know what to do in the event of an earthquake, especially if you have never experienced one before.

The Japan Meteorological Agency uses a seismic intensity scale whose units are called Shindo (震度). The scale starts at 0 (the weakest) and goes up to 7 (the strongest).

The JMA Seismic Intensity Scale

Summary of Tables explaining the JMA Seismic Intensity Scale
Tables explaining the JMA Seismic Intensity Scale

What to Do During and Immediately After an Earthquake

The first thing to do is to secure your own safety. If possible, you should take cover under a sturdy table or desk, or else move to a safe space where you are not likely to be hit by falling objects; after finding a safe place, stay there until the tremor subsides. Then, if you were using any sources of fire or heat, turn them off as soon as the shaking calms down.

10 Tips for Earthquake Safety (Tokyo Fire Department)

  1. If an earthquake occurs while you are on campus
    Wait until the tremor subsides, and then move to a designated Primary Evacuation Spot. If an earthquake strikes while you are attending a class, follow your teacher's instructions. Otherwise, move promptly to a Primary Evacuation Spot on your own.

    Shortly after a large earthquake, 安否確認 (An Pi Kaku Nin: "safety confirmation") will be carried out at the Primary Evacuation Spot, to see who is accounted for. Be wary of aftershocks if the earthquake was an especially large one. Keep calm and follow the instructions of the person in charge.
    If an earthquake is particularly severe, transport systems may be disrupted. Follow information on the radio and other media. Even if you are going home on foot or by bicycle, be especially cautious as there may be an unpredictable disruption of traffic. Do not get too close to the buildings you pass, as objects (pieces of walls, signposts, etc.) may be falling from above.

  2. If an earthquake occurs while you are away from campus
    Secure your safety and wait until the tremor calms down, after which the first thing to do is to make sure all flames and electricity are turned off (use the circuit breaker if you can, along with gas valves) to prevent fire. If you are close to the coast, evacuate immediately to higher ground, aware that a tsunami may be generated by any violent quake. If you are at a place such as a store or a public place, follow the staff's instructions. If at home, move promptly to your Designated Evacuation spot in order to secure your safety and basic supplies. Check up on your family and friends' safety from there. It is highly recommended that you check and confirm the location of your Designated Evacuation spot with your friends, family and / or those who are close to you at the dormitory.
    For a day or two after a large earthquake, mobile telephone networks become jammed. Please refrain from making any calls except those of real importance and urgency.

Everyday Preparedness

More than once a year, evacuation drills are organized by the university. This is a great opportunity to find out what to do in case of earthquakes, and you are strongly encouraged to participate.
In order to react appropriately in the event of an earthquake, preparation ahead of time is very important. Let your academic advisors, the Educational Affairs Section at your department and the Student Exchange Division know your contact information (mobile number and email address) so that they can reach you in case of an emergency. If a large earthquake occurs, An-Pi-Kaku-Nin will be carried out. Contact your academic advisors, the Educational Affairs Section at your department and the the Student Exchange Division to report your safety and whereabouts.

* Prevent objects such as furniture or electrical appliances from falling over by securing them in place.

* Prepare a survival emergency kit. The following are typical items in the kit: flashlight, batteries, portable radio, lighter, matches, candles, nonperishable food, bottled water, thick cotton gloves, tarpaulin, extra clothes, pens and notepad, first-aid kit, etc.

* Check your emergency survival kit regularly to see if the food’s best-before date has passed, or if any necessary items have gone missing; this way, the kit will be useful when it’s needed.

* Besides the items described previously, ensure that your valuables (passport, Residence / Alien Registration Card, bankbooks, cash, daily medication, if any) are handy with you.

* In the event of a disaster, please do not forget to report to your embassy or general consulate, letting them know you are safe.

* For more information about emergency and disaster, visit the page below.
http://www.pref.miyagi.jp/site/emer/ (Japanese only)

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