July 16, 2003

パニくらない (panikuranai), Don't Panic

My office recently invited the Marunouchi Fire Dept. to come talk to us about earthquakes. After the recent sway we experienced from the 21st floor, we all wanted to know what we're really supposed to do.

Turns out, at least for the office buildings in this area, it is best to stay indoors. Get under a table for sure, but don't leave the building. Unless there's a fire, they tell us. If there is one, the building emergency announcement should inform us. Either way, the announcement should be talking to us frequently, letting us know what to do.

Only thing is, we had noticed that during the last earthquake, the "emergency announcement" didn't come on until a good 10 minutes after the quake only to tell us that an earthquake occurred and the building was safe. The fire dept. people said maybe they didn't feel the earthquake at first since they are located in the basement. Great. We were freaking out up here and they were still chilling downstairs? We don't quite trust this announcement system anyway and all secretly agreed that we'd still try and get the hell outta here should a quake happen.

Other interesting tidbits:
Since the 1300's, there have been 8 "significant" earthquakes...the largest being 7.3.
The highest tsunami was 32 meters (about 10 stories high).
We should have thick-soled shoes for walking home. Sneakers could melt if there are fires.
There will be confusion when the 2,000,000 of us in central Tokyo try to get home so it will be very important to follow instructions that the radio will run (must have battery run radio handy).
The Marunouchi Police expect a huge homeless group will form in Tokyo for those commuters who live too far away to walk home.
Each office should have food, water, and blankets to tide everyone over for 3 days.
Because phone lines will be a mess, NTT has set up a special emergency message system. Dial 117, then your home number. Leave a 30 second message to tell your family you are OK and on your way home or whatever. They in turn can call the same to hear that message.
A healthy male can survive for 10 days on 5 liters of water only...if necessary.
All central Tokyo police/fire folks practice once a year coming to work by foot or bicycle as they are required to show up to work after any earthquake over 5. The woman who came to talk to us thus rides her bike to work once a year which takes her 5 hours. But now she knows her route and work knows when to expect her.
Since the Kobe earthquake and the realization that Kobe emergency agencies were overwhelmed with work, Tokyo has organized citizen volunteer groups who are trained for emergencies.
The MOST important thing in an emergency is not to panic, or パニくらない (panikuranai).
Earthquake predictions used to vary; recently they're agreeing that one is due very soon.
However, in the context of earth's history, soon means between now and the next 50 years. And that's being pretty specific from the earth's point of view.

In closing, our presenters said, "after the earthquake, if you're still alive, be thankful."

Posted by Mie at July 16, 2003 06:35 PM | TrackBack

Thanks for the information. I never knew about the NTT 117 number system. I was living in the Kansai region when the earthquake struck Kobe and I did not know what to do post-earthquake event. I ran out of my building while my neighbors went back to sleep.

Posted by: kyle at July 17, 2003 10:23 AM

Didn`t they tell the people in the N.Y.
world trade center buildings, to just stay in
their offices,(just before they fell???
Don`t PANIC, just get out and look out for
falling glass,ect!

Posted by: KUMA at July 17, 2003 12:09 PM

Since transferring from Tokyo to NYC after Sept 11th, I have been told a similar story at my offices at the World Financial Center (just across the street from 'Ground Zero'). That is that "it is best to stay indoors... and don't leave the building. Unless there's a fire..."

However, fortunately for us there have been numerous fire drills and announcements to get people comfortable dealing with emergencies.

My first evacuation fire drill had me go down the emergency stairwells. You can imagine my surprise when I opened the doors at the bottom of the stairwell and was emptied out onto the street overlooking the pit where the World Trade Center Buildings once stood. It was only then that I could really appreciate the panic and chaos that gripped the people of lower Manhattan.

Footnote : In Sept 2002, a year after the tragic events, a group of friends and I went to study the art of wine making. This past Saturday I bottled that wine and dedicated it to the residents of lower Manhattan. See website… http://www.pbase.com/thedog/kalchhook

Too learn more about wine making in the NYC Area see …
http://www.bacchusschoolofwine.com/ and

Posted by: ジョージ at July 17, 2003 12:20 PM

Mie - by the way, how long did it take you to type in this long post ???

Posted by: ジョージ at July 17, 2003 12:54 PM

D'oh! V. useful, (thanks!) but not a little bit worrying...

Posted by: Delboy at July 17, 2003 02:28 PM

Nah, for this entry, I logged in on my work computer...I had too much "important" stuff to say and it would have taken not only too much time to type, but too much patience!

Wish I could lie and impress everyone by saying, "oh you know, it took 20 minutes with my super thumb skills!"

Posted by: Mie at July 17, 2003 05:23 PM
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