Decide in advance on a method to confirm safety
- Mobile Phones,
Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171) is a service provided by NTT Communications. When an actual disaster occurs, the service may be operated either by NTT East or NTT West depending on the location of the disaster-affected area and other factors.
Charges will be billed at the same rate as that of ordinary phone calls for recording and playing back messages to the telephone number in question. Message center usage services, such as for storing recorded messages, will be provided free of charge.
This service can be used from subscriber phones, ISDNs, payphones, Hikari Denwa (IP) phone services, and from special public phones installed by NTT East or NTT West at evacuation centers after a disaster occurs. Please contact the relevant telecommunications carriers regarding usage of the service from mobile phones, PHSs or other telephone services provided by those carriers. (Please note that the service cannot be accessed from ISDN or Hikari Denwa dial phones).
Please make sure you have the correct phone number before leaving or checking messages.
Safety Confirmation Tool (Search Screen)
This is a joint search site that, in addition to searching for the safety information of people who have registered with any of the various companies’ disaster message boards, also searches through the safety information compiled by companies and other organizations. Searches can be conducted using a person’s name or telephone number.
We asked Great East Japan Earthquake survivors to share some of the challenges they faced
We could not bathe or use the toilet
I heard from the neighbors that water was available at a nearby public facility and went to get some, but I had to wait an hour the first day and three hours the next day in the freezing cold. Despite waiting so long, I was only able to get about two or three plastic bottles full because I did not have a water container. It made me realize how precious water is.
Not being able to wash my hair was more painful than I could have imagined. Also, it was still winter, so not being able to take a nice hot bath was difficult.
Because water was so precious, I tried to refrain from using the toilet as much as I could (flushing just once or twice a day). Also, I was only able to take a bath once a fortnight (at my friend’s place). The rest of the time, I wiped my body with a wet towel and washed my hair with some water. I had to brush my teeth without toothpaste, using just a toothbrush.
It was cold and dark, there was no warm food to eat, and it was difficult to get information
There was no electricity, so we were unable to use the TV, mobile phones, or computers to get information. It was only the next day that we read about the tsunami in the newspaper. We were unable to cook or warm ourselves or take a bath. We found out the hard way how vital electricity is for even the most basic things in our lives. Getting electricity back on was the biggest relief.
We did not want to use our flashlights much, as the batteries had to be conserved. So we groped our way around in the semi-darkness. We would go to bed at 8:00 p.m. every night.
When your mobile phone runs out of power, you cannot access the phone address book. It occurred to me that I ought to have written down the contact details of family and friends.
3. Food and Water Procurement
Lining up for hours was normal
It was common to have to stand in line for three or four hours at the local supermarket. Hearing that the downtown supermarket was selling milk and eggs, I went and waited for hours in the cold to buy them. Not being able to buy diapers for the baby made me very nervous. I had to stand in line for five hours at the local supermarket to get them.
I had not bought reserve water, and there was no leftover bath water either. I stood in line for five hours in the cold but was unable to get even a single water container filled. The water supply station ran out of water, and people who couldn’t get any water became angry and almost turned violent.
Confirming safety of loved ones – experiences recounted by Great Hanshin Earthquake and Great East Japan Earthquake survivors
Payphones (public telephones) work, so be sure to check their locations
The Great Hanshin Earthquake
I didn’t have a mobile phone in those days, so had to use a payphone to contact my family. I waited in line for about 10 hours at a payphone near the evacuation center before I could get through to my family.
While trying to confirm my family’s safety, I found that calls made via landline and mobile phones did not go through. Traffic restrictions made it impossible to get around by car, so I rode a bicycle to the area in Kobe affected by the quake and searched all the evacuation centers I could find. It took me six hours until I finally located my family
The Great East Japan Earthquake
It was almost impossible to connect to other mobile phones within Tohoku, however, it was possible to contact people in Tokyo, so we got messages through to family members and relatives living in Tohoku via our daughter who lives in Tokyo.
My home was completely cut off from all communications, so I was only able to confirm the safety of my family after finally making it back home three days later. It would have helped if I had known the location of payphones, because they work. The Disaster Emergency Message Dial service (171) is also effective, but only if both parties are aware of it.
It was easier to connect with people via the Internet than with phones. Rather than e-mailing or phoning people individually, it is more effective to use social networking sites to communicate, because a larger number of people can read your posts and also pass on the information to those who cannot.
Supervising Editor:Earthquake Disaster Prevention Advisor Mr. Nobumasa Kawabata
(Created June 2015)