Emergency Stockpiling: Preparing Your Home in Japan For Disasters

Stockpiling supplies is crucial to being prepared. Why?

Well, this is a photo I took at a convenience store in Kumamoto a week after the April 2016 earthquakes…

kumamotoAfter a major disaster, there may be panic buying and disruption to infrastructure including roads – so supplies of food, water, and other goods may run low for extended periods of time.

Remember that the best option for you and your family may be to stay at home, as opposed to staying in an evacuation center, if your home is safe.

This means that you should keep extra supplies to make sure everyone can stay comfortable even if you can’t buy from supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.

There will also likely be extended disruptions to lifelines (water/sewerage, gas, electricity) – in Tokyo, electricity may be unavailable for 7 days, water/sewerage for 30 days, and gas for 60 days.

Try to plan ahead by preparing things like portable stoves and gas canisters (kassetto konro / カセットコンロ), portable toilets (keitai toire / 携帯トイレ), and portable solar chargers.

Also, remember to consider everyone’s needs – Do you have enough nappies and milk formula for the baby? How about sanitary items (this was a lesson learnt from the 2011 disaster, where mostly men ran relief supplies distribution)? How about your glasses, medication, or inhaler?

Stockpile List

One key point – your emergency stockpile (備蓄品 / bichiku hin) is different from your emergency bag (非常持ち出し袋/ hijyo mochidashi bukuro). The bag is the one you can carry out with you after a disaster, and it is recommended that you prepare both.

While everyone’s needs will be different, below is a great reference list of items to include in your stockpile:


Emergency Stockpile List Link
 – made by NGO Peace Boat, which runs English-language disaster preparedness workshops in Japan.

*The critical items are marked “Things to keep stocked at home” in the left-hand column.

Rolling Stock (ローリング ストック)

One of the challenges with stockpiling supplies is that we forget about them, and they expire…

To avoid this, you can try out the “rolling stock” method. This means regularly eating items from your stockpile, and then replacing them with new items.

For example – once a month, find the oldest food item you have in your stockpile, and eat it. And then simply replace it with a new item of your choosing. This way, you can systematically eat through the older food items nearing expiration, and ensure a fresh supply of delicious emergency foods in your stockpile.


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