How to survive quakes, crime, poverty in big city

TOKYO —

“Urban survival” – why would Weekly Playboy (Dec 31) be sounding that note? What threats to survival does the big city pose? Three in particular: earthquakes, crime, poverty.

Earthquakes, naturally, come first. A particularly devastating one 22 months ago is still fresh in our minds, and seismologists say there’s a 60% chance of a “big one” rocking Tokyo sometime, there’s no telling when, within 30 years. A magnitude 9 quake centered beneath Tokyo, the experts calculate, could kill 323,000 people. How not to be one of them?

There are no guarantees in a cataclysm that overpowering, of course, but “be prepared” is a good maxim to start with. Think small. Think, for example, of the humble spoon.

It’s amazing what you can do with a spoon, when you stop to think about it – open bottles, open cans, unscrew screws, dig yourself out from under rubble. One thing: to be useful in a dire emergency, a spoon needs to be tough. One that bends easily is useless. There are tough spoons on the market. Check them out.

Other goods to stock up on now, before it’s too late, include a diesel-power chainsaw, emergency plastic toilets (as Playboy wisely observes, bodily functions do not cease in a crisis, even if everything else does), and non-perishable dried foods – which, the magazine notes, used to be barely digestible but are now, thanks to recent improvements, quite delicious.

Crime. Recent police statistics suggest violent crime is down, but the fact remains that the economy is feeble, many people are underemployed and underpaid if not unemployed, and there’s a lot of pent-up edginess on the street. Some will do anything if pushed far enough. They’ll do it to you if you happen to be in their path.

A surprisingly good weapon, the magazine tell us, is a set of keys. If you see someone coming at you in what looks like a threatening manner, grip your keys between your fingers, and if the attack materializes, let the attacker have it in the face – you’ll do some damage and give yourself time to flee.

Purse and bag-snatchers are a growing menace. One person watches you at the ATM and with a cell phone contacts a partner outside when you leave flush with cash. Usually the partner is on a bike or motorcycle and will make the grab before you even know what’s happening. There are, fortunately, special anti-crime straps that, for example, attach your bag to your wrist, making snatching virtually impossible.

Poverty is one thing that causes people turn to crime. But supposing you’ve lost your job or suffered a salary cut and are pinched to the point of desperation but shrink from violence. Are you homeless? Weekly Playboy offers instructions on how to build a cardboard shelter. Cold? Well, if you have someone to huddle with for warmth, so much the better. If not, find someone – preferably someone with a dog or cat because, the magazine says, animal warmth is not a bad second-best when unpaid utility bills have left you freezing in the dark.

As for food, how does 300 yen a month sound? With a little ingenuity you can keep body and soul together for no more than that. Ultra-cheap, high-calorie fare is what you need. Item one: a bottle of mayonnaise. Then, at the supermarket, ask for discarded vegetables – tell them you’ve a rabbit to feed. Your next stop is the bakery – “May I have some bread crusts to feed my carp?” And so on. Weekly Playboy makes it all seem rather fun. It probably isn’t, but if it tides you over to better times which surely lie ahead, the purpose has been served.

  • 8

    gaijinfo

    Move to the country.

  • 12

    zenkan

    Some people are going to be in deep trouble if there isn't a survival app!

  • 4

    paulinusa

    Paranoia articles seem very popular nowadays in Japan. Have a drink. Don't worry, be happy.

  • 6

    kimuzukashiiiii

    spoons and mayonnaise eh? Ill stock up...

  • 12

    T-Mack

    Been there done that . Northridge Quake...no fun, no food, the smell of natural gas lines leaking, constant trimmers, not knowing what's next? fires, people died, and alot of stupid people running around...I keep 10 gal water per person and 10 cases of cup of soup and hot chocolate, and plenty of wood for a wood burning stove...we used the pool to wash in... not fun...survival... some people's sewer lines leaked into their pool's, we all shared, Jew's ate pork, muslin's ate and smoked with christain's, we made tent's and stayed together we all laughed after the third day, I hooked up my mother in laws phone because all the walls fell and I moved the brick and reatached to wires..Everyone wanted to use her phone, she was popular...I was glad to help, Northridge taught me self reliance, adapt, improvise, overcome,...my true diary...

  • 2

    multitasker

    Northridge? Where`s that?

  • 8

    Namaman

    What kind of homeless person living in a cardboard box is reading Weekly Playboy anyway?

  • 5

    Laguna

    Northridge? Where`s that?

    Los Angeles

  • 0

    multitasker

    Thanks! Nice one #Namaman!

  • 4

    fupayme

    I think most Japanese are still pretty lucky as being poor in Tokyo is better than being poor in lots of other places around the world :P

  • 3

    BertieWooster

    OK.

    I'm off to Tokyo now with a couple of sturdy spoons to dig me out of any earthquake, enough cardboard to build a shelter, a dog to keep me warm, a 300 yen bottle of mayonnaise for food and a bunch of keys in case anyone tries to steal any of these items.

    Think they'll let me on the plane with all of that?

  • 2

    BertieWooster

    Dang!

    Just got to Naha airport and realised that I had forgotten the diesel-power chainsaw, quite delicious non-perishable dried foods, and emergency plastic toilet.

    Good thing it's only a 500 yen taxi ride!

    This lot should be alright on the plane, shouldn't it?

  • 1

    Simona Stanzani

    don't think the chainsaw would go down well.

  • 3

    BertieWooster

    Simona-san,

    You're right!

    They didn't like the chainsaw at all.

    I had to go into a little room and explain it all to a rather nasty and very suspicious man.

    And they took the bottle of diesel fuel.

    Something about no bottled liquids allowed on the flight!

    Still, I got to keep the cardboard, spoons, mayonnaise, emergency plastic toilet and keys.

    But I had to pay extra for the dog!

    I wonder if they have chainsaws in Akihabara?

  • 1

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Keeping a stock of water, food, paper items, along with a backpack by the door full of short term items like the multi-purpose knife, personal documents (passport, birth certificate...). Nowhere to stash the personal toilet, whatever that is...and if I need a chainsaw in Tokyo...there will be so much trouble already that this will not help. Won't be able to find the chainsaw in the rubble, or myself and all my goodies, I suppose. I'm prepared for the building to remain upright. After that, no amount of preparation is going to matter. IMHO.

  • 2

    T-Mack

    I was In the Northridge Earthquake, and the Big Thompson Flood, don't want to bore you with to many detail's, but preparing for the worst is better than you think, than that whole line of thought of it will be burried in the rubble, is nonsense.!....."Chance favor's the prepared Mind" ...so prepare for the worst, and hope and pray for the best...!!!

  • 1

    Maria

    What a curious article!

    a spoon needs to be tough...There are tough spoons on the market. Check them out..."

    I can think of only one way to test a spoon on its toughness, none of which would make the stores where I would go to check them out especially happy.

    I am also intrigued by the diesel-power chainsaw. Where do I get one? Where should I store it? Where do I get the diesel in an emergency? Why do I need one anyway if I have my tough spoon? So many questions, so little anticipation of sensible answers...

    I do have one of those personal toilets though- it's basically a strong plastic bag with some of that liquid-absorbing chemical in it, isn't it. I reckon a bagful of plastic bags,some wet wipes and some loo roll will do.

    @Bertie Wooster: So you have moved to Tokyo from a really much safer place, seismically speaking, with no money, in order to live on the streets and wait for disaster?
    Why, Bertie, why?

  • 1

    badsey3

    The only reason you would want a diesel chainsaw would be if you had a pacemaker or were surrounded by a natural gas leak (the spark ignition is not on a diesel). They are rare and I have never even heard of one. And even then the chain could spark by hitting metal and ignite a gas leak.

    I would get a high quality multi-tool like a Leatherman with the spoon and fork.

  • 0

    LiveInTokyo

    While Im walking around the country with the many other survivors of the great earthquake to come, Ill know that I will have lost everything! However, Ill take comfort in the fact that Im going to have my portable toilet!!!! The only problem I`ll probably have is finding a suitable supply of toilet paper ...

  • 1

    Serrano

    "at the supermarket ask for discarded vetetables - tell them you've a rabbit to feed."

    I tried that - the supermarket clerk told me to go to the pet store to get food for my rabbit.

    "Your next stop is the bakery - "May I have some bread crusts to feed my carp?"

    I tried that - the bakery clerk laughed heartily and said "Good one, sir!"

  • 0

    Serrano

    "Other goods to stock up on now before it's too late, include a diesel-power chain saw"

    I thought everyone had one of those already.

    "A surpisingly good weapon, the magazine tells us, is a set of keys... let the attacker have it in the face"

    An even better weapon that you would probably have greater success letting your attacker have in the face is a baseball bat.

  • 1

    fds

    don't forget water. can live without food for a while. can't without water.

  • 0

    avigator

    Keep in touch and maintain good relations with down to earth friends. Chances are they will help you. But not those who claim to be Sachos or have a little bit of money.

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