Yokohama Center Offers State-of-the-Art Disaster Preparedness Measures | New

Yokohama— In Japan’s second largest city, a disaster preparedness center – free and open to the public – continues to make it its mission not only to respond to city disasters, but also to share preventive measures to protect the lives of people. residents and visitors.

The Yokohama Disaster Risk Reduction Learning Center, established in 1983, offers tours, simulations, and educational videos for people of all ages and backgrounds.

In its disaster mitigation training room, people can enter a room inspired by a typical Japanese house, with an entrance, kitchen, living room and a few steps of a staircase intended to lead to the second floor.

Trainers at the center advise participants in the simulation to take note of their surroundings, of which disaster preparedness elements have been placed in various areas of the home.

A group of invited journalists from the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands had the opportunity to participate in a flood simulation.

The simulation began with a report on the living room television, in which viewers were informed of a level 3 advisory, encouraging the vulnerable population, such as the elderly and people in flood zones, to evacuate to the site of nearest designated evacuation. .

The center’s cutting-edge technology projected video onto living room windows, depicting trees swaying in turbulent winds and heavy rain causing landslides just outside the house.

The advisory then reached level 4, strongly encouraging everyone to evacuate.

As visiting reporters rushed to get various disaster preparedness items, from white hard hats to food items, and even a pet cat, the house began to flood, preventing them from exiting the premises. They then rushed up the stairs, in an attempt to reach higher ground.

After the simulation was over, one of the center’s trainers, Nao Omori from the Yokohama Fire Department, pointed out that there was a hazard map on the living room wall which would have been helpful in evacuating the premises more quickly. The map showed that the house was in an area at high risk of being destroyed by a landslide, due to heavy rains and high winds.

If reporters had taken note of this soon after hearing the first advisory issued, they would have known how to get their emergency supplies more quickly and evacuate to the nearest designated evacuation site.

Omori also showed reporters augmented reality or AR software depicting the expected level of flooding in the house due to heavy rains and high winds.

In a presentation given by Hiroshi Mizutani, Director of Yokohama General Affairs Office – Regional Disaster Prevention Division – Crisis Management Office, and his colleague Misa Hashimoto, it was later learned that these risk maps were based on data provided by the prefecture.

Mizutani, through an interpreter, said it is the responsibility of each municipality to create their risk maps, updating them every three to four years in accordance with local legislation. If a particular area requires an update before the prescribed deadlines, the entire prefecture also receives an update.

Last year, information guides were distributed to all households in Yokohama, which number around 1.6 million. Guides advise community members to determine the hazards of the area they live in, understand weather and evacuation information, learn how to gather necessary information, understand evacuation actions, and prepare for items to take with them in the event of a disaster.

Additionally, the guides provide an evacuation action plan via a personal calendaring worksheet, encouraging each person to create their own calendar for typhoons and heavy rains.

A mobile app is now available, providing an online version of this information, as well as AR software that simulates different disaster scenarios, from heavy rains to strong flood currents.

There are 459 evacuation centers in Yokohama. Notices to the general public also provide information on centers open in the event of a natural disaster, with locals responsible for ensuring sites remain operational.

The demonstration center hopes to attract 50,000 people a year, focusing on educating the general public on how to be proactive in the event of a disaster.

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