Today, the 1st of September, is Disaster Prevention Day, on the anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake. This year marks the 90th anniversary of that fatal day in 1923.
This morning the Public Address (PA) System wailed its sirens at 6.30am. These sirens sound like the sirens you hear in World War II movies to signal people to get to bomb shelters. I will never forget the first time I heard the siren, I got the fright of my life as I thought North Korea had invaded. I didn’t realise they use these sirens to signal any sort of disaster or threat or for training. Half an hour after the sirens there were a number of announcements, including a reminder that we could practise evacuating to our nearest safety point today. We didn’t go, but we do know where it is.
By complete co-incidence I had brought the kids to a Disaster Training Centre on Friday. I did not know today was Disaster Prevention Day until this morning when all the Sunday Morning programmes (the only day of the week I watch morning or daytime TV) had a feature on safety and/or how to deal with a natural or manmade disaster. One snippet I watched showed Honjo Disaster Prevention Centre, 本所防災館, in Tokyo. This place looks a lot more interactive than the centre we went to on Friday in Konosu. It has an “urban flooding experiental section” where you can try opening a house door and a car door that has flood water blocking it. You choose how many centimetres of water to try out. They have a smoke maze section, fire fighting room and first aid room just like the one in Konosu has. On the third floor they have a rainstorm simulation section, where they deck you out with full-on rain gear before experiencing torrential rain of the kind you can not move your body and some experimenters said it’s hard to breath. Konosu has basic earthquake and typhoon simulators, but the ones at Honjo 本所防災館 are a lot more life-like. Rinkai 臨海広域防災公園 has an excellent earthquake simulator, where you get to experience an earthquake in an elevator and then escape from a damage-stricken urban area.
The great news is all of these centres are free in and free to use their simulators. For more information on the centre in Konosu, Saitama, please see my blog post An earthquake, a typhoon and a fire all in one day.
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