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Survival Advice for Japan Earthquake Victims
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Survival Advice for Japan Earthquake Victims on 03/23/2011 10:00:20 MDT Print View

I'd like as a favor of everyone here. I've been working non-stop since last week putting together a website, Disaster Japan, which is focused on providing level-headed, practical, and easy to find information for people on the ground here in Japan (or relatives and friends of those who are here) who desperately want information on where to go, what to do, who to talk to, how to do things. While the Japanese are doing a fantastic job with what they have, and they are doing their best to include non-Japanese-speaking residents in all the information, the sheer massiveness of what has happened and the numbers of people involved make it impossible for them to provide good, timely information for the non-Japanese residents. Hence the site.

What we do is first, with the help of people around the world looking out on the internet and elsewhere for relevant information, collect information on a Facebook site. Then those links which are the most relevant and useful are picked up by a group working the backend of the website, posting it to the public. So far it's working quite well, getting more and more attention. Peter Barakan, the NHK News announcer, and arguably the most famous non-Japanese in Japan, has linked to the site, as has Daniel Kahl, a well-known comedian.

I've been meaning to update the sections in the site concerning survival outdoors and in situations where there is little access to modern conveniences, but have been so incredibly busy with trying to update the site and work out its interface and navigation and stuff, that I've simply not had the time.

What I'd like to ask is people could post ideas and techniques on survival in this thread. This is not UL hiking and the people who would read the site are for the most part just average people, so they might know little to nothing about living outdoors. But the principles behind UL I think are very very relevant, since many of these people have nothing and resources are very limited, so they are being forced to live as simply and frugally as possible. RIght now the weather up in Tohoku is freezing, below 0ºC. It is snowing and there is almost no gas or electricity for heat or cooking. I was thinking things like how to make a simple wood-burning stove that doesn't need a lot of fuel (there is probably no white gas or canisters or alcohol around), how to make a shelter and keep warm, how to dress, etc. What I will do when the thread is comprehensive enough, is to copy the thread and post it to the site, plus link to this page for people to read ongoing suggestions.

Might people be able to help me out with this? Eventually I hope much of it can be translated to Japanese so that more people can benefit. Thanks!

Edit. I'd like to ask that the discussion stay on-topic as much as possible, and not drift off into politics or disagreements, since people who need the information will be reading this and they don't have time for or interest in the finer points of silnylon or merino wool. They have to make do with everyday materials and items that you can find in any hardware shop or supermarket, if even that. Again, thanks!

Edited by butuki on 03/23/2011 11:58:54 MDT.

Steve Cain
(hoosierdaddy) - F

Locale: Western Washington
Re: Survival Advice for Japan Earthquake Victims on 03/23/2011 11:24:17 MDT Print View


You have a GREAT idea here to help your countrymen! Good for you!

Since you say it is cold & snowing, I have included some very basic cold weather tips from a snowshoeing course that I used to teach. I hope that my small contribution can be used to help people. Thank you for doing this!!

Stay Warm and Dry

1.Your body gains or conserves heat in four ways:
a. Digestion of food produces heat to maintain normal body temperatures.
b. External application of heat. (sun, fire and warmth from another body)
c. Muscular activity by deliberate exercise or involuntary shivering warms your body.
d. Reduction of blood flow near the surface of your body. (surface blood vessels constrict)

2. Your body loses heat in four ways:
a. Evaporation causes a large loss of thermal energy as water changes to vapor. Examples are perspiration from your skin and exhaling moisture from your lungs during breathing.
b. Conduction transfers heat by direct contact. Contact with anything cooler than skin temperature contributes to heat loss. Examples are sitting on the snow, touching cold equipment and being rained on.
c. Radiation is the emission of thermal energy and causes the greatest heat loss from uncovered surfaces of your body. Your head and neck, areas where large blood vessels come close to the surface of your body, are particularly susceptible to radiation heat loss, and your unprotected head may lose up to 50% of your body’s total heat production at 40°F.
d. Convection facilitates heat loss by movement of air or fluid. Your body continually warms a thin layer of air next to your skin. If this warm air stays close, it insulates you; but if air currents remove warm air, your body cools at a much more rapid pace.

3. Layering of clothes: (Thermo-regulation is required!)
1. You’ll need at least three layers: 
a. Wicking layer
b. Insulating layer
c. Layer for wind and rain/snow protection

4. Ways to prevent heat loss:
1. Control evaporative heat loss by regulating clothing to prevent excessive sweating.
2. Cover your head, neck and hands. Put on a hat!
3. Wear layers of clothing that help maintain a layer of warm air next to your body.
4. Use insulation between your body and any cold objects.
5. Wear pile or fleece.
6. Wear a wind or rain jacket and pants in windy or wet weather.
7. Exchange wet clothes for dry ones.
8. Don’t wear cotton!
9. Use a sit pad to insulate yourself against the cold ground.
10. Wear clothes that insulate when wet or that wick wetness away from the body.
11. Cover your mouth and nose with wool or insulating material.
12. Drink water and eat food high in fats and carbohydrates. (sugars, complex carbs)
13. Keep continuously active to ensure adequate heat production.
14. Terminate exposure. Get out of the wind, rain and snow. Find shelter.
15. Wear enough clothing. Wear a hat, balaclava or hood; mittens rather than gloves and extra socks if they won’t make your boots too tight. Wear a face mask in strong, cold winds.
16. Don’t wear constricting clothing or boots. Don’t wear too many pairs of socks!
17. Exercise your fingers and toes to maintain adequate circulation.
18. Don’t touch cold metals with bare skin.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Survival Advice for Japan Earthquake Victims on 03/23/2011 11:59:37 MDT Print View

Thanks Steve! That a great list and a great start.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
WATER, FOOD & COOKING on 03/23/2011 13:29:33 MDT Print View


1.Post photos showing how to make an efficient hobo stove from large cans (& safety precautions for using fire)

2.Water filtration will at least take out particles that may be radioactive. Post instructions for a homemade gravity filtration bag. There will still be radioactivity in the water but to a lesser degree. Drink bottled beverages when possible.

3.Hydration is especially important for kids and elderly people. Kids should drink ONLY bottled, non-radioactive water.

4.Food should be fully cooked before saving for "leftovers". Then it should be sealed and stored in a cold place. Rodents will take advantage of the chaotic debris situation so protect food from them with metal cabinets and containers.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Survival Advice for Japan Earthquake Victims on 03/23/2011 14:49:03 MDT Print View

Great work, Miguel. Your efforts will hopefully reach many victims in need.

Regarding radiation: ANY radiation that enters the body via injestion or inhalation must be avoided at all costs. Even small amounts taken in can result in what we call DRT--dead right there. Actually, it takes 10-12 weeks for symptoms to show up, but the result is almost always fatal. Alpha and beta radiation, which is what would be experienced, cannot pass through clothing (alpha) and skin (beta), so the key is to wear clothing with complete coverage. Any open wounds must also be protected, as that is another possible portal for radiactive particles to enter the body. Essentially, any radiation souce that enters the body remains there. For very minor internal contamination, there are a few medical approaches that can help minimize damage, but these won't do much against serious contamination.

The main preventive measures would include some type of face mask to help prevent breathing in any airborne radioactive particles. Wraparound glasses will help as well, since the particles can get in the eyes and remain there awhile. If someone thinks he/she has been contaminated, it is critical to take a long shower, using lots of soap. Long hair can collect radioactive particles, so attention should be given to that. Clean the nose, and rinse the mouth well. Wash hands often during the day, to avoid injesting radioactive particles that might be on the hands.

Hopefully, the authorities, or Red Cross, will have plenty of cheap tie-on face masks available. In an obvious (or even potential) radiation zone, I would wear one at all times.

I think controlling the young children will be a huge task. They won't understand what the dangers are, and they will make mistakes that could become quite serious. The simple act of petting a contaminated dog, and then putting their fingers in their mouths, can create internal radiation problems.

We all wish you the greatest success with your endeavors, Miguel. Our hearts are with you.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Survival Advice for Japan Earthquake Victims on 03/23/2011 16:28:06 MDT Print View


Again, kudos to you!

Truth be told, I've never been in an emergency situation -- so my first reaction really is "who the heck am I to give advice"? As well, some great nuggets of experience and wisdom have already been offered up above.

Along with survival -- I am wondering what's being done to calm the children -- say, in the various shelters? Does each family basically huddle within its own area, padded by a mat and surrounded by cardboard? Or are people mingling and supporting each other emotionally? I wonder if suggestions can be made for those in the shelters to share what books or toys or other things of comfort they have -- say a pile -- that children can freely partake? I imagine each child is probably pretty bored with his or her own particular toy or storybook by now? And maybe some brave souls can volunteer some entertainment (sing a long's) -- starting with the children -- to cheer up the spirits all around?

Anyway, some thoughts along those lines -- from one who has absolutely zero real experience. Sorry if they are off the wall.