Get Prepared: What to Put in Your Earthquake Kit

By WaNavi Japan
June 17, 2014

Did you know that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake could occur in Japan anywhere, anytime? Japan has the best infrastructure of any country to withstand this kind of earthquake, but that doesn’t mean it’s without risk. An important part of keeping yourself and your family safe in the event of an earthquake is being prepared, and an important part of that preparedness is having an earthquake kit ready to go.

IMG_4430 cropped

The earthquake kit consists of all the supplies you and your family will need to stay safe and healthy for up to three days after a disaster, including if there’s a loss of power, water, and sewage. Your earthquake kit comes into play if you have to leave your home because the building is unsafe, if there is danger of fire or tsunami, or for other reasons. After a disaster is too late to stock up; do you remember, or did you see photos of, the empty convenience store shelves after March 11, 2011? Prep your kit now and have peace of mind.

You can find most of the items you’ll need in the “emergency preparedness” section of department stores like Tokyu Hands, in your regular grocery store, hardware store, or 100 yen shop. Several of WaNavi’s members like keeping their kits in big army-style rucksacks that you can get for ¥1,000 from shops on Ameyokocho street between Ueno and Okachimachi stations, but any backpack big enough that you can easily carry will do. Each member of your family who can carry a pack should have one.

IMG_4435 cropped

Here are a few essentials to make sure you have in your kit:

  1. Food and water. You should drink an absolute minimum of two liters of water per person per day. Don’t forget you may also want water for washing and cooking. Shelters will have water, but you’ll want some in your pack just in case. Food should be anything non-perishable that you don’t need to cook or heat to eat. There are plenty of food bars, vacuum-packed rice, and other meals you can stock up on, but while being sensible, keep in mind that you’ll be in a stressful situation. Include some of your favorite snacks or comfort food, like chocolate or chewing gum. You can also find special self-heating food packaging for things like curry and soup in the emergency preparedness section of department stores. Again, shelters will provide food, but it will be the minimum and won’t account for food allergies, dietary restrictions, or what’s comforting during stressful times.
  2. Medicine and eyeglasses. Tuck away your and your family’s essential medication, including daily medication like prescriptions and emergency medication like asthma inhalers. If you wear contacts or glasses, be sure to put a spare pair of glasses in your kit.
  3. A flashlight, a whistle, and shoes. Keep these three items right next to your bed when you sleep, and put them with the rest of your kit, or put them on, if you leave your home after a disaster. Check the flashlight periodically to make sure the batteries still work, and include spare batteries in your kit. As we’ve learned from past earthquakes, people trapped in buildings quickly exhausted themselves by yelling for help, so always have a whistle close at hand in case you become trapped and need to notify others of where you are. The shoes are for navigating the space between your room and your front door in case there is any broken glass, plates, or anything else you could step on with bare feet and injure yourself.

earthquake_shopping cropped

There’s more you’ll need to fill out your kit, depending on the time of year and you and your family’s personal needs. WaNavi Japan has a full checklist of items available on our website, so please go over it and get your kit together. If you’d like to learn more about how earthquakes in Japan work, setting up a communication plan with friends and family, securing your home and making a stockpile, and what’s what in the emergency preparedness aisle of stores, please find us on Facebook and join us at our next earthquake preparedness workshop.


By Jordan Wyndelts