Preparing for Earthquakes


Page Number 2000087  Updated on June 15, 2022

Print Print in large font

Although Japan is a country that experiences many earthquakes, most of them are minor.
However, if a large earthquake occurs, it could cause massive damage such as by destroying buildings and starting fires.
It is important to physically and mentally prepare ahead of time to lessen the damage of earthquakes.
Aftershocks can also occur after large earthquakes.
These can be just as strong or even stronger than the previous earthquake, so please take precautions such as staying away from damaged or destroyed buildings.

Confirming ways you can contact others

When large scale disasters occur, landlines and mobile phones may become unusable due to power outages or having too many people trying to use them at once.
Try to have multiple ways of getting into contact with others before any natural disasters strike.
It's effective to choose someone who you can have give and receive messages for you such as a relative living in a different region due to it being difficult for phones to connect to each other within the same area affected by a natural disaster.

Public phones

Public phone lines are prioritized during times of disaster, making calls made through them more likely to get through and only requiring an initial ¥10 to make.

Mobile phone text messages

Mobile phone text messages are more likely to get through compared to voice phone calls during times of emergency. 

Social media (Twitter, Facebook, LINE, etc.)

These services are unlikely to go down during times of emergency and were helpful in confirming the safety of many during the Kumamoto earthquake, however, please be careful with false information or rumors.

 Disaster Emergency Message Dial

You can dial 171 to leave a message confirming your safety.

Recording a message

  1. Dial 171
  2. Press 1
  3. Dial your phone number (including your area code (058 if a landline in Gifu City))
  4. Press 1
  5. You can now begin recording your message. Briefly explain where you are and your situation within 30 seconds.
  6. Press 9
  7. You will hear your message being played back.
    After you confirm it, you can hang up.

Listening to other peoples' messages

  1. Dial 171
  2. Press 2
  3. Dial the number of the person whose message you would like to hear (including the area code).
  4. Press 1
  5. The most recent message will play.
    You can listen to the 20 most recent messages.
    Messages recorded before then will be erased.
  6. You can press 8 to relisten to the same message and 9 to listen to the next most recent message.
  7. You can also press 3 to begin recording a message of your own.

Mobile Phone Disaster Emergency Message Board

This method requires having a contract with a mobile phone provider.

  1. Open the Disaster Message Board (could be on a website and/or app depending on your phone company) and write your message.
  2. You can check other people's emergency messages by entering their mobile phone number.

Paper messages

You can write a message on a piece of paper with a permanent marker and tape it to your front door.

Decide on an evacuation area/center beforehand

Find an evacuation area/center close to your home, workplace, or anywhere that you spend a lot of time in before any disasters occur.

Walk through your evacuation path and see how long it takes you, what things/places you can use to help guide you and any areas that might be potentially dangerous along the way.

Try to identify multiple evacuation areas/centers as well as evacuation routes beforehand.
You can find a list of designated emergency evacuation areas and designated evacuation centers on Gifu City's homepage.

Gifu City is working on installing signs marking where designated emergency evacuation areas and designated evacuation centers are throughout the city.

  1. They utilize symbols (○=usable ×=unusable △=partially usuable) to indicate whether citizens can use them during each type of emergency, whether it be river/inland floods, landslides, earthquakes, etc.
  2. They are also displayed in English, Chinese, and Tagalog.
  3. Designated emergency evacuation areas and designated evacuation centers are also recognizable by emojis.

Designated emergency evacuation areas

These are areas that you can temporarily evacuate to immediately following a natural disaster. 

They are mainly found in empty areas such as parks and school athletic fields for earthquakes or schools and community centers to avoid floods or high winds.

Designated evacuation centers, etc.

Evacuation centers are places that people whose homes that have been damaged, destroyed, or are at risk of collapsing can go to live in.
These are often located in school gymnasiums, local community centers, and private sector facilities.
*There are some facilities that are designated as both designated emergency evacuation areas and designated evacuation centers. 

Emergency goods to take with you

These are the bare minimum amount of things that you should bring with you in times of disaster.
You should keep them in a backpack, vest, etc. to keep both of your hands free.
Store them near your front door, near your pillow, or in an otherwise easy to access location.
Take the minimum amount of what you need so your ability to evacuate is not affected. 

  • Drinking water
  • Food
    (easy to eat, can be stored for a long time and prepared without using gas or electricity)
  • Valuables and cash
    (including 10 yen coins to use public phones)
  • Insurance cards, evacuee card, health check card
  • Copies of addresses and phone numbers of family members, relatives, and acquaintances
  • Rescue goods/medical goods
    (the elderly and those with medical conditions should bring their medicine along with a copy of their medicine booklet)
  • Whistle
  • Helmet or protective hood
  • Thick gloves (work gloves)
  • Flashlight, portable radio, spare batteries
  • Cell phone, manual charger, spare batteries
  • Clothes (coat(s), underwear, socks), rain gear, clothes to protect against the cold, portable handwarmers
  • Shoes with sturdy soles
  • Towels, handkerchiefs, tissues, wet wipes
  • Plastic bags
  • Hygiene products (masks, hand sanitizer, soap, thermometer)
  • Portable toilet
  • Knife, can opener
  • Lighter/matches and candles
  • Writing utensils (permanent marker)

【Items depending on the needs of your household】

  • Disposable diapers, baby wipes, breastfeeding supplies
  • Glasses, contact lenses
  • Hearing aid, dentures
  • Feminine hygiene products

Stored emergency goods

These are goods that you should have prepared in advance for the time it takes for relief goods to be provided and electricity, water, and gas (lifelines) to be restored.
You should have at least three days worth, but a week's worth is ideal.
Choose things that you cannot live without.
Store them in separate areas that are easy to reach and not likely to affected by furniture falling over or your home being destroyed.
(storing goods outside, in the trunk of your car, near your front door, etc.)
Have every member of your household know where these goods are stored.

  • Drinking water
    Have around 3L of water per person each day.
    Use water tanks as part of your efforts to store water.
  • Food
    Choose food that can be stored for a long time and easy to prepare.
    Rice that can be eaten by just adding water (alpha rice), canned/dried bread, biscuits, instant/ready-made products, snacks such as candy, chocolate, etc.
  • Chopsticks, spoons, forks, paper plates/cups
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, mats (plastic sheet, etc.)
  • Clothes (coat(s), underwear, socks)
  • Towels, handkerchiefs, tissues, wet wipes
  • Bathing goods
  • Shampoo that can be used without water, etc.
  • Portable stove, spare gas cylinders
  • Solid fuel, lantern, candles, flashlight
  • Newspapers
  • Pots
  • Portable toilet
  • Plastic wrap
  • Duct tape
  • Sarashi (bleached cloths), medicine, masks
  • Plastic bags
  • Crowbar, shovel, rope, etc.
    (to use to help rescue others)
  • Radio, batteries

If an earthquake occurs, stay calm and take appropriate action

Basic ways to protect yourself

  • Protect yourself under a sturdy table or chair
  • Put out any fires when the shaking ends
  • Open up your front door/windows to confirm an exit to evacuate from (if necessary)
  • Do not panic and go outside
  • When evacuating, please walk and only bring the minimum amount of things that you need with you
  • Stay away from the edges of roads and rivers, gates, fences, and cliffs
  • Evacuate immediately if you are near any steep areas on or around a mountain
  • Ask others if they need help and ask for help when you need it
  • Use a radio, etc. to stay informed

What to do if an earthquake happens while you are not home

If driving

Turn on your hazard lights and then pull over and stop on the left side of the road.
When you leave your car, keep your key in the ignition and do not lock the doors (this makes it easier for emergency teams, etc. to move your car if it blocks their way).

If riding on the train or bus

  • Grab onto a strap or railing with both hands.
  • Follow the staff's directions and do not get out unless instructed to do so.

If inside an elevator

If you feel shaking, press all of the floor buttons and get out at the first stop as quickly as possible.
If you get stuck inside, use the intercom button to ask for help. Afterwards, remain calm and wait for help to arrive.

If outdoors

Be aware that vending machines, concrete block fences, signs, and glass might fall down, and stay away from buildings.

If in an office or workspace

Hide under a desk and be aware that lockers, bookcases, etc. might fall over as well as any other heavy objects on top of the desk.

If at the store

  • Use an object like a bag to protect your head.
  • Stay away from large heavy items like display cases that might fall over.
  • Follow the staff's directions and do not panic and overcrowd at emergency exits or stairs.

If at a theater or hall

Get down in the space between your seat and the seat in front of you.
Follow the staff's directions and do not panic and overcrowd at emergency exits or stairs.

If in an underground shopping complex

Walk along the walls and take the nearest exit to get above ground.

Stay informed with accurate information

Get information from the city or an otherwise trustworthy TV or radio program.
After earthquakes happen, false rumors and information that stir up feelings of anxiety and fear get circulated.
Calmly try to confirm if the information you are getting is true or not.

Sources to get information from during an earthquake

Sources Gifu City provides

  • Disaster prevention information for Gifu City
  • Disaster prevention management radio broadcasts
  • Municipal vehicles with loudspeakers
  • Emergency broadcasts on FM Wacchi (78.5MHz) and FM Gifu (80.0MHz) when natural disasters occur
  • Gifu City's homepage, official social media accounts, Disaster Support app
  • Gifu City climate and natural disaster messaging service
  • Early warning emails

Other information sources

  • Gifu Prefecture Comprehensive Disaster Prevention Portal
  • Earthquake information page from the Meteorological Agency
  • Disaster prevention page from the Cabinet Office's website