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Japanese Red Cross Helps U.S. Military Families Prepare

  • Japanese Red Cross Helps U.S. Military Families Prepare
    Red Cross volunteer Jaedon Baker learns knotting techniques from a Japanese Red Cross disaster response worker during the joint preparedness exercise.
  • Japanese Red Cross Helps U.S. Military Families Prepare
    Japanese Red Cross staffer Kondo Sato teaches Americans Red Crosser Sumie Maruyama and Leslie Dahl how to properly secure a tent with rope.
  • Japanese Red Cross Helps U.S. Military Families Prepare
    Jaedon and Jaelon Baker learn how the Japanese Red Cross team prepares food to feed disasters victims during preparedness exercise.
  • Japanese Red Cross Helps U.S. Military Families Prepare
    Japanese and American Red Cross teams get together following the disaster preparedness exercise in Shiroyama City, Japan.
Keeping families safe in times of emergency is truly an international effort.

You’ve heard the saying “preparedness starts at home.” Well for military families, home may be somewhere far away from the United States – like Japan.

At the U.S. Navy Airfield at Atsugi, Japan, the American Red Cross team is helping thousands of military families to be aware of possible threats from disasters and preparing them to respond.

“Our Red Cross team at the U.S. Navy Airfield at Atsugi, Japan, is working with the Japanese Red Cross (JRC) on several events to promote preparedness for the military and civilian communities in the area,” said J. Paul Butler, Service to the Armed Forces station manager. “While you should be prepared anywhere you live, in Japan preparedness is taken very seriously. Here, typhoons (in Japanese, taifu) are a threat from May to November, and earthquakes are a year-round threat.”

The Japanese Red Cross invited their American counterparts to a disaster response training at a park in Shiroyama city. There they instructed their guests in knot tying and rope work as part of learning how to assemble emergency shelters. At lunchtime, the Americans learned how the local Red Cross cooks large meals, with everyone pitching in to slice up vegetables, bamboo shoots and individual bags of rice cooked in a variety of flavors. Following lunch, it was back to work on the shelters.

Both Red Cross societies stress the importance of preparedness, especially for typhoons. “The military closely tracks these storms and can give several days’ notice of the arrival of any major storm,” said Butler. “What’s interesting is that the preparedness message is universal and the tips sound much the same as prepping for a hurricane along the U.S. Gulf Coast.”

Some of the typhoon safety tips include the following:

  • 72 hours out is the best time to stock up on food, bottled water, candles, batteries and board games. No one should wait until the last minute to stock up - when typhoons get close, the stores will be closed.
  • 24 hours out, that’s the time to bring in the bicycles, tables, chairs and grills. One trick to keep your garbage cans from blowing away is to fill them with water. Make sure your car’s gas tank is full and leave your cell phones plugged in, so they are fully charged. If power does go out, use your cell phone as little as possible so the charge lasts until power is restored.
  • 12 hours out, schools will be closed, stores and businesses will shut down and outdoor activities will be cancelled. This is a good time to fill the bathtub with water, so you can still flush your toilet. Filling pots and pans for extra drinking water is also a good idea.
  • When the storm hits, please stay inside. Street signs and tree limbs can become projectiles.
  • After the storm passes, be careful during the cleanup. Power lines may have been blown down, trees weakened, and hillsides can turn into mudslides.
  • “To thank the JRC team,” said Butler, “we invited them to a huge celebration and to march with our teen club in a parade, as well as work with us at our information booth on the installation parade field.”

    In addition to the thousands of US sailors and their families, NAF Atsugi is also home to several thousand Japanese sailors and airmen of the country’s Maritime Self Defense Force. The Japanese military personnel were delighted to see their own Red Cross present on the base. The Red Cross booth became a multinational and multilingual operation, with the American Red Cross talking to the U.S. sailors and their families, while the Japanese Red Cross talked to the Japanese sailors and their families.

    “Keeping families safe in times of emergency is truly an international effort,” said Butler.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.