What To Do During A Typhoon In Japan

We’re right in the middle of Typhoon season in Japan, and there have been some pretty big ones this year.  But it always seems like they get crazier and bigger as we get into the fall, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.
Typhoons are basically hurricanes that hit the Pacific Ocean.  Both are ‘tropical cyclones’ and the name difference is due to region only.  Only a few typhoons actually hit Japan each year, but sometimes up to almost 30 cause lots of trouble when they come close.  This trouble usually takes the form of insane wind and rain.

Here Comes The Flood

When a typhoon is coming, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the news.  You can find detailed information in English on the Japan Meteorological Agency website (http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html) or the World Meteorological Organization website (http://severe.worldweather.org/).  But in my experience, it doesn’t take too much Japanese language ability to watch Japanese TV and understand that the huge swirling thing is going to hit at 9pm tonight.

Typhoons don’t cause an incredible amount of damage in the Tokyo area, but they’re very hard on southwestern Japan (especially Kyushu) and Okinawa.  Okinawa is located directly in the path of most typhoons.  If you live in those areas, there may be evacuation warnings so keep an eye on what’s going on.

I’d recommend planning to stay home during a typhoon.  They can cause floods which are dangerous for driving.  They also tend to knock out the trains in the Tokyo area where I live.  Sometimes all we get here is some sideways rain, but other times there are winds that are pretty intense.

How To Stay Safe

– Watch out for falling things.  During a storm, there can be all kinds of stuff flying around.  If the winds are really strong, keep your head covered.

– Stay away from glass.  Typhoons have a tendency to break it and send it flying everywhere.  In areas where there’s damage, watch out for glass underfoot.

– Don’t even think about going near water.  The rain causes water to swell and the wind can create dangerously high waves.  Near the ocean is where lots of people die during typhoons.

– Travel only if you really need to.  Trains can leave you stranded and floods can make driving impossible.

– If there’s flooding, move to higher ground.  If you live in southwestern Japan where typhoons often wreak lots of havoc, put together a typhoon kit containing water, non-perishable foods, a flashlight, batteries and a first aid kit.

With all the new safety measures and rescue teams, there aren’t nearly as many typhoon-related deaths as there used to be.  But there still are every year, so keep yourself safe.

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