Survival Lessons from Japan Earthquake / Tsunami

By now everyone has seen the aftermath left by the Earthquake that hit Japan just a few days ago. Disasters such as this quickly remind us of how fine the line is between order and chaos and how little control we have over when, where and how a disaster will strike. Even when we think we have all of our ducks in a row when it comes to preparedness, it is a sense of security that should be taken with a grain of salt. Disasters, as has been seen in Japan, can be so incredibly multi-faceted and unpredictable. Even the best screen writers in Hollywood could not have written a script so laden with survival scenarios, disaster situations, horrific domino effects, and the unbelievable aftermath that is playing out in Japan.

They had 15 minutes notice that the earthquake was going to strike.  What would you have done in those 15 minutes?

100s of thousands of people have been completely displaced from their homes and towns – literally forced to SURVIVE with what they’ve carried on their back and in their hands. Some have headed to the mountains, others to relatives in other parts of the country and thousands of survivors have no where to go but make shift lodges and mass shelters. With little to no food, water and supplies, there seems no end to this mass survival scenario. As the events unfold, this is a very stark reminder to those of us who are able to watch from the sidelines. Next time, we may not be so lucky. What can the Earthquake in Japan teach us? What can be take away from this disaster? It’s too early to learn all of the lessons it has to teach, but below are some key lessons to consider while we take it all in.

LESSON # 1: PREPARE FOR A BUG-OUT.  You are not crazy.

Creek's Bug Out Bag

Creek's Bug Out Bag

You are NOT CRAZY if you prepare in advance for a Bug Out Scenario.  You ARE CRAZY if you don’t.  If you do not have a BUG OUT PLAN in place, START ON ONE TODAY!!!!!!!!!!  A Bug Out Plan is your predefined guide of what to do if you are ever faced with an emergency evacuation.  It’s already done and written.  It is your check-list in an emergency situation when every second counts.  It takes most of the guess work out of evacuating and eliminates careless mistakes.  An emergency evacuation consists of 4 MAIN SECTIONS which I have listed in this post on the 4 Aspects of a Bug Out.  If you do not have a BUG OUT BAG packed, then start on one today.  I have written an article on Building a Bug Out Bag which is posted on Artofmanliness.com here.  This is a good place to start.  You don’t have to finish it in a day.  It will take some time and that is OK.  The key is STARTING!

LESSON # 2: Disasters ARE NOT SINGULAR.  Predicting the domino effect.

Nuclear Power Plant - Threat of Melt Down

Nuclear Power Plant - Threat of Melt Down

Rarely, if ever, does a disaster happen when the victims only have to worry about the direct effects of just that 1 disaster.  Typically, disasters happen in stages and there are multiple levels of threat.  In this case, the 1st disaster was the earthquake.  Even if nothing else happened, this earthquake toppled buildings and split cities in half – ultimately shifting the entire country of Japan nearly 13 feet.  However, the quake led to a tsunami which led to massive flooding – driving 100s of thousands of people from their homes.  The death toll is now reaching into the 1000s.  Disaster # 3 is that all of these displaced people have been driven from their homes with no supplies, food or water in near freezing conditions.  Even if there was no quake or flood, surviving for an extended period of time in freezing weather with little supplies would be a struggle.  To top it off, there is no power or fuel or phone service. The hospitals are destroyed.  Still yet, the clouds of smoke from failing power plants darken the horizon warning of a potential nuclear meltdown.

None of these issues were the largest concern for one 60 year old man who was actually swept out 10 miles to sea on the roof of his house.  He was in a full-on self survival & rescue situation for nearly 48 hours.

Man Swept 10 miles Out To Sea

Man Swept 10 miles Out To Sea

The lesson here is to expect disasters to have multiple phases.  When planning for potential disasters, consider the domino disaster effect in your Bug Out Plan.

LESSON # 3: DISASTERS ARE NOT ISOLATED to Impoverished, low-tech areas or 3rd World Countries

Coastal City in Japan Flooded by Tsunami

Coastal City in Japan Flooded by Tsunami

It is a MYTH to think that just because you live in a modernized society that you and your family are not subject to Mother Nature’s Number 1 Rule. 

Rule # 1: THERE ARE NO RULES.

Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet.  They have some of the most advanced early warning technology for earthquakes and tsunamis that exists.  This equipment gave them 15-30 minutes notice.  Technology and modern conveniences does not make us immune to disasters.  On the flip-side, we probably suffer more when we lose these modern conveniences because of a disaster than someone who didn’t have them to begin with.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking because you live in the greatest Nation in the world that a disaster cannot touch you.  It can.  Most reading this post already know this.  Technology is meaningless when it loses power.  Learning some good primitive survival skill-sets is important even in a modern society.  What primitive survival skills do you need to brush up on?  Do you know how to build quick effective cold weather shelters?  Do you know how to purify drinking water?  Do you know how to properly dispose of human waste?  Can you build a fire in damp conditions?

LESSON # 4: Allow Your Preparedness to EVOLVE

Every life experience we have better prepares us for the next.  We can learn something from every event – whether it’s one we are watching on TV or one we experience first hand.  My point is NEVER get so comfortable that you stop learning.  I am an experienced survivalist with 100s of hours of tested field time and I learn things from others and from experiences every day.  My Bug Out Plan and Bug Out Bag are both constantly evolving and changing as I learn new things and go through new experiences.  As students of survival, we should be constantly trying to become better at our skills and more comprehensive with our knowledge.

For example, reading that story about the 60 year old Japanese man being violently swept out to sea on the roof of his house has made me consider something about my Bug Out Bag that I’ve never focused on before – SIGNALING.  Over the course of the next few weeks I will be including some kind of effective signaling tool in my BOB.

In a few short weeks, the new channels will be moving on to other stories and events and the unbelievable things we are seeing happen now will slowly fade into the past.  When that happens, the feeling of urgency to put a plan in place for you and your family will also fade.  If you do not have a BUG OUT PLAN, act now while your senses are heightened from the events around you.  Use the momentum of the moment to put something solid in place for an event that just might strike when you least expect it.

What survival lessons are you learning from the events in Japan today?

Creek

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About Willow Haven Outdoor & Creek Stewart
Creek Stewart is the Owner and Lead Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor - a leading Survival and Preparedness Training Facility located on 21-acres in Central Indiana.  For more information on Survival Courses and Clinics offered at WHO, click HERE.  Creek is also author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit and The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.  Visit Creek's personal web-site here: WWW.CREEKSTEWART.COM. You can contact Creek directly at creek@willowhavenoutdoor.com.
 
 

Comments

  1. jay says:

    I put a simple mirror in my GOOD bag for signaling.

  2. Max R says:

    I have an old cd in my Bug Out Vest. Look at the aircraft through the hole and wiggle it. It will flash at the aircraft so long as you keep looking at it through the hole.

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