Does news about an approaching typhoon have you worried? Are you wondering what you should do to prepare for it, and how things will turn out afterwards? Here is some helpful information on what you can do during typhoon season to stay safe and give yourself a peace of mind.
Hurricane and Typhoon season is generally between May and November in the Eastern Pacific. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there are an average of 25.6 typhoons (also known as tropical cyclones) that affect the region per year. (Source)
Although Japan is a relatively safe country to be in when a typhoon hits, there are precautions you should take in case a severe one develops. Here are some steps that you can take to prepare before a typhoon, and some recommendations on what to do during and after one occurs.
How to Know If a Typhoon Is Coming
Japan has many useful resources that can help you stay alert to the latest emergency information. Weather forecasts usually issue warnings a few days in advance of an approaching typhoon. You can access weather information in English from the following sites:
Weather information is also available on local broadcasting channels such as NHK. Alerts will sometimes flash or scroll across the screen during regular programmes as inclement weather becomes more imminent.
Typhoon warnings are also issued through train announcements and notices if there is a concern for delay or disruption to service.
What to Do Before a Typhoon Comes
Check the weather reports regularly to receive updates on the current status of the typhoon. News sources will generally give a timeline estimate for when the typhoon will make contact with land, how strong it will be, and when it can be expected to end. Knowing this information will help you plan what to do for the following steps.
Confirm Your Plan of Action with Your Work
If a typhoon occurs during business hours, most companies will instruct their employees to either leave early, or to stay at home for the whole day. For example, if you normally work a 9 to 5 shift, and the typhoon is coming around 6 in the evening, your company may still ask you to work at least a few hours before it’s expected to make landfall.
If you’re asked to work on the day of the typhoon, we suggest that you try to complete as many of the safety precautions as possible beforehand. You could be delayed in returning home due to transportation stopping or becoming overwhelmed with the influx of people.
Prepare Your Home a Day or Two in Advance
Here is what you can do to prepare your home a few days before the typhoon is due to arrive:
- Clear your balcony
- Bring in your pets
- Close the shutters to your windows
- Confirm that both sides of sliding doors are latched
- Close all curtains
- Cover your bicycle and move it under something safe
- Check the settings on your power breaker
- Stock up on at least two days of food
- Check your “Grab Bag”
- Have a raincoat and rainboots ready
Clear your balcony
It’s a good idea to clear everything from your balcony as best as you can. There is a high chance that anything left on it will blow away or become damaged. First, you should be sure to bring in your laundry pole and to retract the holders. Laundry poles are typically made from metal, and they can be dangerous if blown around by the gusts of wind.
If you have any furniture on your balcony, it’s ideal to bring it inside if possible. If you don’t have enough space, collapse the furniture, or lay it down in a position where it isn’t likely to get blown around the balcony or off it.
Plants should be wrapped inside plastic bags and brought in as well. The bags will prevent any soil or water from leaking out of the pots in your home. Plants that can’t be brought in should be propped along a wall or in a corner to help prevent them from falling over.
Bring in Your Pets
Typhoons can be very dangerous for animals that are left outside. They may try to seek shelter in unsafe places that could leave them exposed to many risks. If you have an outdoor pet, please bring them inside at least 24 hours before the typhoon arrives.
Cats, in particular, are prone to hiding in small spaces such as car hoods. If you have a cat, please try to bring it inside before it becomes scared and goes into hiding. After the typhoon, be sure to check around and under your vehicle before driving it to ensure that any strays aren’t sheltering in it.
Make sure you have plenty of pet food in your home to last the next few days. Also, it’s good to have a separate supply of water for your pet in case of an emergency.
Close the Shutters to Your Windows
Not all homes have metal shutters included, but if yours does, they can add an extra barrier of safety between you and the strong typhoon winds. Most older Japanese homes have shutters that can be closed the same way as the sliding doors.
Others have shutters that can be lowered from the top of the door frame, and snapped into place at the bottom. Either type will be effective at helping to prevent your window from becoming broken or damaged during the typhoon.
Confirm That Sliding Doors Are Properly Latched Shut
One easy to miss mistake is to leave one side of your sliding doors still open. After sliding the door latch into place, give both sides of the door a small tug to make sure that they can’t pull open.
Also, check the edges to see if there are any gaps or spaces where the doors don’t properly close, and could allow wind or water to get in. If you notice that your door doesn’t close and seal completely, call for help to get it repaired before the typhoon arrives.
Close All Curtains
Even if you don’t have shutters attached to your home, you can close your curtains to provide a bit of extra safety in case they happen to break. Curtains won’t prevent breakage from happening, but they can help to limit how much shattered glass might fly across the room.
Usually two layers of curtains can be installed in a Japanese home. It is a good idea to use both to block the window off.
Protect Your Bicycle and Other Outdoor Equipment
You should cover any equipment that you can’t bring into your home. Many people in Japan will have either a bicycle or motorcycle. You can buy a protective covering that will fit over your bike, and help keep it safe from the weather.
Before covering your bike, move it to a place where it is unlikely to fall over, or get hit by other debris. Some places have designated parking areas for bikes that will lock the wheels in place and prevent them from falling over.
If your home doesn’t have such a space, try to place it under a stairwell, or against a wall to help prevent it from getting blown or knocked over.
Check the Settings on Your Circuit Breaker
Do you know how to switch your circuit breaker off or on? Could you reset it quickly in the event that it trips? Depending on the severity of the typhoon, there is a chance that you could experience a power outage.
Try to familiarize yourself with the circuit breaker in your home before this happens. You should know where the circuit breaker is located, how to turn the main circuit on or off, and how to toggle the smaller branch circuits breakers as needed.
Take and save a picture with your smartphone to use as a reference for how your circuit breaker is usually set.
Store Enough Food for at Least 48 Hours
Food in grocery stores and convenience stores may become more scarce as people stock up and prepare for the storm. Shelves will be noticeably emptier the day of the typhoon, so it’s wise to buy and prepare the food you need in advance.
Grab any basic necessities you may be low on, such as bread, eggs, milk, etc. Opt for meals that require little to no preparation in case you are unable to cook during or immediately after the typhoon.
Check your “Grab Bag”
We have a full post on what should be included in your emergency grab bag, but this would be a good opportunity to check and make sure yours doesn’t have any expired food. If you need to evacuate your home, it is recommended that you have at least enough food to last you 72 hours.
Replace any food in your grab bag that is close to expiring, and put it in a safe and quickly accessible place. Make sure that everything is sealed in waterproof packaging, such as ziplock bags, in case you need to evacuate in the heavy typhoon rain.
Get Your Raincoat, Rain Pants and Rain Boots Ready
Umbrellas are pretty much useless in a typhoon. The strong gusts of wind can easily rip them inside out or apart. A good rain suit and boots will be more beneficial in the heavy wind and rain.
It is best to avoid going outside during a typhoon by all means possible. If you must go outside, please cover your body with waterproof clothing that is reflective and easy to see.
Check your rain gear for any rips or tears before the typhoon. Make sure that it still fits, and that it doesn’t have any mold or mildew growing from previous use. Hang it somewhere it can adequately dry when you’re finished with it.
What to Do During a Typhoon
Once all of your preparations are complete, all that’s left to do is to sit tight and wait the typhoon out. You may feel the building shake from the strong winds, and hear your windows and door rattle. This is common, so try not to be too alarmed.
Find some place in your home to sit where there aren’t any windows or doors nearby with access to the outside. This is a good time to read a book, watch a movie, or play a game with your family or friends.
You may experience slower internet connection speeds, and the service may become unstable. This means you might have a hard time using streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube, so it’s a good idea to have downloadable movies and games ready in case you lose your internet connection.
Make sure your flashlight is within arm’s reach in case the power goes out. Other than the loud noise and the shaking, Japanese homes are generally very safe versus typhoons, but it’s a good habit to stay cautious.
Check in with your friends and family through social media, and keep them updated on how you’re faring.
If anyone requires emergency help, direct them to call 119 to reach rescue workers. It can be too dangerous to leave your home and attempt to help them yourself.
What to Do After a Typhoon
After a typhoon passes, check in on social media again to inform family and friends of your status. Then, also be sure to contact your workplace to see what the outlook is for the next work day. Your work may be canceled due to structural damage of your work building, or trains stopping because of damage to the tracks.
Check the Train Services
Train services often halt for some time after a typhoon until the tracks can be cleaned and verified that they are safe. The website for your local railway line will provide information on how long this will take, and when you can expect the trains to resume again.
If you have to transfer between train lines, you may find that one line is running, but the other is not. Contact your workplace immediately and let them know of the situation if it prevents you from getting to work.
Check the Exterior of Your Home
Look for any cracks that may have formed in your windows during the typhoon. Also take note of any moisture that may have gotten in, and try to locate any leaks. You’ll want to have these repaired and sealed off as soon as possible.
Walk along the exterior of your home and make sure anything you left outside didn’t blow away. You can then begin returning your outdoor equipment back to where it was before the typhoon came.