Workshop for parents and children to learn how to survive natural disasters

By President and CEO  Riyako Namiki

A while ago, we held a workshop for parents and children to learn and acquire leadership and survival techniques. In recent years, we have frequently suffered natural disasters such as earthquakes and rain storms. It is a very important skill to get creative and utilize whatever lies ready to hand when logistics is cut off and food and other necessities run short.

As a guest speaker, we invited Takumi Nagai, who is a member of Minamiuonuma City council in Niigata Prefecture and a professional mountain guide. Mr. Nagai, my friend, spoke about how to take the initiative when disasters occur and what kind of skills we should have to survive such emergencies. The audience were children from kindergarten pupils to junior high school students and their parents. The speech was followed by a workshop that included outdoor games.

The program featured the following tasks.

  • to open canned foods without an opener
  • to cut ropes without scissors and a knife
  • to make beds and shelters with cardboard
  • to substitute firewood with paper
  • to make a water filter with plastic bottles
  • to play a treasure-hunt game by reading a beacon, which is an equipment to catch electric waves emitting from chips and indicate their locations

The task of making shelters with cardboard was especially interesting to me. Some team made bed heads. Other team made pillows. Their works were not only intended to help evacuees keep privacy in cramped shelters and feel relaxed. They were also rich in ideas and gentle considerations to make evacuees feel comfortable as much as possible. In an example, they painted pictures on bead heads.

Some team hastily made futons, saying they came up with the idea just before the deadline. I suspect that the children were engaged in the tasks while thinking about situations of disaster-stricken areas and evacuees’ emotions.

Mr. Nagai, also a professional disaster advisor, said he was very impressed because the children came up with such various ideas for themselves. All of the ideas were actually adopted at real shelters and reflected the very needs of evacuees – a kind of culmination of their wisdom.

In particular, one of the three ideas contributed to reduce thefts at shelters. Which idea do you think it was? The answer is to make a pillow.

All of the ideas helped to reduce stresses at shelters. Bed heads worked out to protect each person’s privacy while futons, being made of cardboard, kept evacuees warm and were very much appreciated in cold areas. Needless to say, pillows helped to make beds comfortable to sleep in.

More than that, a pillow works to secure individual space, helping to discourage thefts.

Nowadays, disasters could occur anywhere, even in places where they have never happened before. We could get affected anytime. We live in the era when we should consider disasters as our own matters.

My motto for parenting is to teach my children to survive any difficult situations in their life and take leadership at the time of emergency, instead of waiting to be told what to do.

I proposed the workshop to convey my such thought to as many children as possible.

Someday I would like to provide an opportunity to think about other techniques with you, including a surprising skill to open canned foods without any tools.

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