If you currently live in Japan, you’ll doubtless have already put together some sort of emergency evacuation bag with all the essential supplies in case disaster strikes … right?
If you haven’t, then hop to it! Japan is a country prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and typhoons. However, a new layer has been added to all this catastrophe: COVID-19. So, your emergency kit is likely in need of an update.
Before we look at what to add to your bag, let’s recap what should be in there right now. First and foremost, pack some food and drink. While it’s good to stock up on supplies for your home — canned and bagged food, a gas stove and seven two-liter bottles of water to last one person for a week — when you’re on the run you can’t carry a supermarket in your backpack.
Stick to a bottle or two of water (at least a liter per person) and a water filtration straw, if possible. Add some granola and protein bars, or other easy-to-carry items. Hopefully, you won’t be out of your home for too long.
Next, make sure to have a first-aid kit and any medications in their original bottles, as you’ll need to keep track of your prescriptions. Here is where our additional coronavirus preparation comes in: To stay healthy, you’re also going to need a supply of face masks, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and disinfectant wipes. It wouldn’t hurt to carry a thermometer — to help detect any changes in body temperature, a symptom of the coronavirus — some soap for you and your family’s personal use and your own sets of chopsticks.
Aside from the above, the following items are also helpful if you can get them: headlamps or flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, a foldable map of your area (for when your phone gives out), a Swiss army knife (if you have one), small to medium-sized plastic shopping bags (two or three for each person), a space blanket, an oversized handkerchief (to use as a mask or tourniquet), rainwear, a full change of clothes, a whistle (to alert others to your location), duct tape, a charger, a roll of toilet paper, pocket warmers, work gloves, athletic shoes (beware of broken glass!) and slippers for indoor shelters. Of course, to carry all this you’re going to need a backpack.
You’re also going to need some cash (both bills and small change), as well as copies of important documents such as passports, a copy of your residence card, bankbooks, the deed to your home and so on. Keep these in a waterproof ziplock bag for extra protection.
During recent floods in Fukui Prefecture, the local government put out an English guide to evacuating in the age of COVID-19 that covers everything from coughing etiquette to social distancing in a shelter. It’s a good primer on what to expect if disaster were to strike in your little corner of Japan.
In the case a second wave of COVID-19 hits Japan harder than before, now may be a good time to check if you are still stocked up — even the most cautious of us may have dipped into our emergency supplies over the summer.
There’s no guarantee that an earthquake or typhoon is imminent, but if you’re staying home more due to the pandemic anyway, then it definitely doesn’t hurt to take some time to get prepared.