【12】 Getting Involved with Local Disaster Prevention Groups

1) What is a Local Disaster Prevention Group?

   These groups are based on the principle of local people looking after their fellow locals in their hour of need. There is no special need to set up a new group. Pre- existing groups, such as town committees and residents’ associations can adequately fulfill this role merely by conducting annual disaster drills.

2) Why Do We Need Such Groups?

   When the Nankai Earthquake occurs, it may not be possible to launch adequate rescue efforts (such as fire fighting). As a result, if people are injured or fires break out, cooperation with those around you will prove vital.

3) Activities of Local Disaster Prevention Groups

①Understanding Disasters

   It is important to be aware of the damage expected in your local area.
   For example, you need to know about the predicted seismic intensity, tsunami-inundation, river-overflow, fire and landslide dangers for your local area.

②Know Your Local Area

   You should check the evacuation points and evacuation routes in your local area. It is also important to be aware of which residents will need to have special help in case of a disaster, for example the infirm, the aged and the disabled.
   It could be helpful to prepare a Disaster Prevention Map.

③Disaster Drills

   Conducting drills is a good way to protect yourself from injury.
   For example, you could maintain your evacuation points/routes, stage a mock evacuation, maintain and practice using equipment such as fire extinguishers.

4) Disaster Prevention at your Work or School

   Apart from local groups, disaster prevention activities are sometimes conducted at workplaces and at schools. By actively participating in these activities, you will form deeper ties with your local community, and create an environment of cooperation that will be of use not only in case of a disaster, but also in your everyday life.
   Even those who are not confident at speaking Japanese could benefit from exchanging simple greetings, such as ohayo, konnichi wa, konban wa, and oyasuminasai (good morning, hello, good evening and good night, respectively). This will foster bonds between you and your community.

① Take a First Aid Course

   If you don’t actually practice first aid, you will not be able to act effectively in an emergency.
   Each local fire department conducts seminars. Individuals and groups may apply to participate.
   The course takes 3 hours, and is free.

② Learn How to Extinguish a Fire

   Please speak with your local fire department.

③ Joining a Local Disaster Prevention Group

   Please make enquiries at the disaster prevention section of your local government office.

5) Disaster Prevention Week, etc

   The central government, local government agencies and other disaster prevention bodies cooperate to raise awareness of typhoons, deluges, heavy snow, floods, tidal inundations, earthquakes and tsunami etc. Disaster Prevention Day and Disaster Prevention Week have been instituted to prevent and/or reduce damage by encouraging people to prepare for disasters in advance. Intensive disaster training and disaster-awareness activities that involve many citizens are conducted across the country during these periods.
   At present, these special periods are: Disaster Prevention Week (Aug 30-Sep 5), Disaster Prevention Day (Sep 1), Disaster Prevention Volunteers Week (Jan 15-21), Disaster Prevention Volunteers Day (Jan 17), Flood Prevention Month (May). People from overseas are encouraged to make use of these opportunities to learn and prepare for disasters.