【Table of Contents】

  1. When an earthquake happens
  • When you are indoors
  • When you are in vehicles
  • When you are outdoors
  1. When the shaking stops
  • Ensuring personal safety
  • Evacuation decision
  • When you are evacuating
  • People who have difficulty returning home
  • Rescue and first aid
  1. What is earthquake?
  • Magnitude
  • Seismic intensity

1.When an earthquake happens

Japan is a country with many earthquakes, and earthquakes strike suddenly.
If an earthquake strikes, stay calm and take action to save your life.
The specific actions you should take depend on where you are and your surroundings.

  1. When you are indoors


  • Get under a desk and protect your head.
    When an earthquake happens, furniture may fall over or items, such as tableware, may fall down.
    To protect yourself from them, keep your head protected, stay away from the furniture, and evacuate under a sturdy desk.
  • If you are near a fire, put it out.
    If you are cooking, turn off the fire and stay away from the stove.
    Do not try to put out the fire when you are away from it. Cooking utensils may fall or you may get burned.
    ✔ Do not leave the fire while using it in your daily lives.
    If you are using a fire, such as a heater, put it out if you can.
    When you are away from it, do not try to put out the fire.
  • If you feel shaking when you are in a bathroom, be careful of injuries caused by fragments of a broken mirror or broken glass and protect your head with a bath lid. Move to a safe place after the shaking stops.
  • If you are near a door, open it and secure an escape route.
  • If the shaking is large, the door may not move smoothly and may not open.
  • If you are near the door, open it and make sure you have a way out.
  • When you are evacuating in the dark, careful not to get injured by broken glass or broken lighting pieces.
  • Do not rush out.

Crowded facilities such as a shopping mall

  • Follow the instructions of the facility staff or employees.
    If there is no instruction from them, protect your head with a bag on the spot.
  • Move to a place with few products or near a pillar.
    If you are in a store, products may fall onto you.
    Pay particular attention to glassware and chinaware and move to the safest place possible.
  • If there is something that may fall from above, move away from there.
    If you are under hanging lights, they may fall. Move to a safer place.
  • Do not rush to the exits or stairs.
    It is dangerous if many people crowd into a small space. Stay calm and act accordingly.
  • Do not use elevators.
    If you want to escape downstairs, do not use an elevator even if it’s moving.
    When an earthquake happens, it will stop, and you may be trapped inside.
  1. When you are in vehicles


  • Stop the elevator at the nearest floor and get off.
    When an earthquake happens, press buttons for all floors and get off at the first stop.
    Do not rush to get off at the stop. It is also important to see the situation of the floor.
  • If you are trapped inside, contact someone using the “emergency call button.”
    If you are in the elevator, you may be trapped inside.
    In that case, ask for help using the “emergency call button” and wait for the rescue.


  1. Stop your car safely on the left side of the road.
    After hearing the Earthquake Early Warning, do not hit the brakes suddenly or turn the steering wheel forcibly.
    Slow down gradually, turn on the hazard lights to alert the drivers around you, and stop the car on the left side of the road.
  2. When the car is stopped, turn off the engine, and wait in the car for the shaking to stop.
    Stay inside the car until the shaking stops. Obtain information on the radio.
  3. If you need to evacuate, leave the key inside, do not lock the doors, and close the windows.
  4. Place your contact information so that it can be easily spotted, and evacuate on foot with valuables, such as an automobile inspection certificate.
  • Sudden braking may cause an accident. Slow down gradually.
  • Do not evacuate by car. It will interfere with emergency vehicles.
  • When you evacuate from the highway on foot, escape to the ground from the emergency exits that are located about every 1 km.


  • Be prepared for an emergency stop when strong shaking is detected.
  • If you are sitting, take a low position and protect your head with a bag.
  • If you are standing, hold onto the straps or railings.
  • Follow the crew’s instructions after the train stops.
  • The Shinkansen (bullet train) makes an emergency stop when it detects shaking. Place yourself between the seats so that you do not get flung forward.
  • On the subway, an emergency light stays on for about one hour in case of a power outage.
  • Some subways have high-voltage power lines installed beside the tracks. Do not step down to the tracks without permission.


  • In case of strong shaking, the bus may brake suddenly to avoid danger.
  • If you are sitting, take a low position and protect your head with a bag.
  • If you are standing, hold onto the railings and straps to prevent falling down.
  • Follow the crew’s instructions after the bus stops.
  1. When you are outdoors

Residential area

  • Watch out for fallen or collapsed objects.
    If strong shaking happens, block walls, stone walls, roof tiles, utility poles, or vending machines may fall over.
    If you feel the shaking, stay away from them, and evacuate to a safer place.

In the city

  • Protect your head from falling objects, such as window glass, outer walls, or signboards.
    If the window glass of an office building breaks, it will fall over a wide area at a speed of 40 to 60 km/h.
    Building outer walls, tiles, or signboards may fall as well.
    Protect your head with a bag and stay away from the building.

Underground shopping area

  • Protect your head with a bag and wait for the shaking to stop.
    The area is relatively safe if there is no fire. Stay calm and act accordingly.
  • If a power outage happens, do not move unnecessarily until the emergency lights are turned on. 
  • Do not rush to one emergency exit. Escape to the ground from other exits if necessary.
    Emergency exits are located every 60m in the area.
    If a nearby emergency exit is crowded with people, look at the situation well and consider going to another one.

Near mountains, rivers and cliffs

  • When you are in the mountains, first protect yourself from falling rocks.
  • Stay away from dangerous areas, such as cliffs and steep slopes.
    When an earthquake happens, the ground may loosen and easily collapse.
    Cliffs and steep slopes are dangerous. Keep away from them.
  • If you are in or near a river, evacuate at right angles to the stream.
    Even if you evacuate upstream along the river flow, when a tsunami (tidal wave) happens, water will follow after it.
    Evacuate quickly at the right-angle direction to the flow.


  • Move to safe hills or shelters without waiting for evacuation orders or advisories. 
    If you are hit by a strong shake, the most terrifying thing along the coast is the tsunami.
    Evacuate to hills without waiting for evacuation orders or advisories.
    If there is no hill nearby, look for a building with three floors or more, and evacuate above the third floor.
    If there is an evacuation sign, use it as a guide when evacuating.
  • Do not return soon after the first wave.
    The tsunami may come several times: not just once.
    Even higher waves may come after the first one. Never go back even if the wave has receded.
  • At the beach with guards and life savers, follow their instructions to evacuate.

To minimize the damage caused by an earthquake, it is important to be always interested in the earthquake, raise awareness of disaster prevention, and know what to do if an earthquake happens in our daily lives.

2.When the shaking stops

  1. Ensuring personal safety
    If an earthquake happens, it is most important to ensure the safety.
    It is the same even after the shaking has stopped.
    If you act in a rush, you may fall, or you may be injured by fallen furniture or scattered glass pieces.
    Check around you first and act accordingly.
  1. Evacuation decision
  • Obtain the right information.
    When a disaster occurs, false information is likely to spread.
    Obtain information from TV, radio, and government offices. 
    Do not rely on rumors too much and understand the situation accurately.
  • Follow the evacuation orders or advisories from the government office.
  • Even if there is no evacuation order or advisory from them, evacuate immediately when you think you are in danger.
  • Do not contact and ask the situation to the fire department or police station during the disaster.
  1. When you are evacuating

When you are leaving home

  • When you leave the house, check the safety of your surroundings and act accordingly.
    Be careful as the glass and signboards may have fallen.
  • When you leave the house to evacuate, turn off the electric breaker and close the gas main valve.
  • After you have checked the safety of your house, check the safety of your neighbors.
  • When a fire breaks out
  • When you hear the fire alarm, check the situation and act promptly.
  • If the room or hallway is filled with smoke, use a handkerchief or towel to cover your nose and mouth and evacuate in a low position.
  • How to evacuate
  • Evacuate on foot.
    If you use a car, it may cause traffic jams and interfere with firefighting and emergency activities.
  • Put your belongings in a bag you can carry on your back so that you can move easily. Wear clothes in which you can easily move.
  1. People who have difficulty returning home

Judgment to go home

  • If you try stubbornly to go home over a long distance, it may cause a secondary disaster. Do not move unnecessarily.
  • Even if you are worried about your family’s safety, do not force yourself to go home. Use public telephones, NTT’s Disaster Emergency Message Dial 171, or mobile phone disaster message boards instead.
  • In addition to returning home, consider participating in relief activities in your area, depending on the situation.

How to get home

  • Avoid using routes that are likely to be closed or where chaos is likely to break out during the disaster.
  • Use facilities such as schools, public facilities, convenience stores, and gas stations.  They are increasingly designated as the facilities to provide information for people who have difficulty returning home during the disaster.
  1.  Rescue and first aid

Extinguishing fire just after it breaks out

  • Extinguish the fire after the shaking has stopped.
  • If a fire breaks out, follow the steps below:
  1. Make a loud noise to inform people around you
    Let them know the abnormal situation by yelling “Fire!”, ringing an emergency bell, or hitting something that makes a loud noise, such as a pot.
  2. Check the size of the fire
    If the size is small and the fire is spreading horizontally, it can be extinguished.
    The points of judgment are that the visibility is clear, origin of the fire can be checked, and the flame has not reached the ceiling or your height.
    On the other hand, if you cannot see the fire origin due to full of smoke and poor visibility, or the flame reaches the ceiling or it is higher than your height, do not try to put it out yourself. In this case, call fire department or fire brigade immediately. 
  3. Extinguish fire with items and water
    Extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher or water.
     If there are cushions or blankets near you, use them to extinguish the fire by hitting it.
  • Until the fire department arrives, cooperate with others to help local residents, especially children, the elderly, and people with disabilities who need help, to evacuate to a safe place.
  • Work with your neighbors and people from voluntary disaster prevention organizations to prevent the fire from spreading by bucket relays.

Rescue and first aid activities

  • Cooperate with each other for emergency relief.
    A catastrophe causes many injuries and makes roads difficult to get through, and therefore relief activities may not be in time. It is important for everyone to cooperate in the treatment of minor injuries.
  • If someone is buried under a collapsed building or fallen object, check that the person is conscious and encourage him/her.
    Rescue activities are dangerous. Cooperate with as many people as possible.

During the disaster, many people will be injured and it makes firefighting and rescue work difficult.We can save as many lives as possible by preparing for disasters on a daily basis and cooperating with each other if there is damage.

3.What is earthquake?

Here is some basic knowledge of earthquakes.

  1. Magnitude
    Magnitude is a measure of the size of the earthquake itself.
    It does not represent the actual strength of the shaking.
  1. Seismic intensity
    Seismic intensity is the strength of the ground shaking. It is generally expressed in 10 scales.
    Even in the same earthquake, the intensity of the shaking depends on the ground and building.
    Also, even in the same building, they differ depending on the floor.

(Based on “Important information on countermeasures against earthquake disasters” by Fire and Disaster Management Agency and Japan Meteorological Agency website)

Seismic intensity and shaking
Intensity 7Many wooden buildings with low earthquake resistance may tilt or collapse.Even wooden buildings with high earthquake resistance may tilt.Reinforced concrete buildings with low earthquake resistance may collapse.
Intensity 6 upperImpossible to move without crawling. You may be thrown into the air.Most of the unsecured furniture moves and many fall over.Wooden buildings with low earthquake resistance may tilt or collapse.Large cracks in the ground, large-scale landslides, and mountain collapses may occur.
Intensity 6 lowerDifficult to stand.Most of the unsecured furniture moves and some fall over.Doors may not open.Wall tiles and window glass may break and fall.Roof tiles of wooden buildings with low earthquake resistance may fall, or the buildings may tilt. Some may collapse.
Intensity5upperDifficult to walk without holding onto something.Many tableware and books may fall off the shelves.Unsecured furniture may fall over.Unreinforced block walls may fall over.
Intensity5lowerMost people are frightened, and try to keep themselves safe by holding onto something.Tableware and books may fall off the shelves.Unsecured furniture may move. Unstable ones may fall over.
Intensity4Most people are surprised by the shaking.Hanging objects, such as lamps, may swing significantly. Unstable objects may fall over.Most people in sleep wake up.
Intensity3Most people who are indoors feel the shaking.Some of them may feel fear.
Intensity2Many people who are indoors, especially those who spend their time quietly, feel the shaking.Some people in sleep wake up.
Intensity1Some people who are indoors, especially those who spend their time quietly, feel a slight shaking.
Intensity0No feeling of the shaking.

・The above contents are created with reference to the following information. Please note that if there is a change in the content of the reference source, it may take some time before it is reflected on this site.


・”Important information on countermeasures against earthquake disasters” by Fire and Disaster Management Agency

・”Earthquake Early Warning” and “Tsunami Warning” to protect yourself in case of emergency! by Government Public Relations Online

・”When you see or hear the Earthquake Early Warning” by Japan Meteorological Agency, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism