Midwinter Disaster Drill in Hokkaido

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Testing Shelter Life under Power Outage Conditions

To test lifesaving countermeasures for when a disaster strikes in winter time, “Midwinter Disaster Drill in 2017” was conducted on January 14–15 at the Japanese Red Cross Hokkaido College of Nursing (Kitami city). 130 participants came from government authorities, Japanese Red Cross Chapters, and elderly care facilities. The organizer was the disaster countermeasures research center at the College. This is the fourth time a disaster drill has been held in midwinter.
The purpose of this drill is to provide people working at various types of facilities the knowhow needed to save lives even when a power outage occurs in wintertime. The participants stayed overnight in a freezing gym, sleeping on cardboard beds they had assembled. The temperature was set to 2 degree Celsius to simulate a severe cold wave that hits once in many years.
Many of the participants were happy with the cardboard beds, noting that bed were easy to assemble. About 80% of them reported being able to sleep fairly well. Used in combination with large tents set up in the gym, the cardboard beds proved to be an effective countermeasure against the cold.
Wood stoves and steamers were found to function well for defrosting rice balls that were assumed to have frozen during transport. On the other hand, temporary restrooms set up outdoors were found to pose a risk of falling due to frozen walkways.
Professor Masahiro NEMOTO of the research center said, “We identified several issues, such as safety for elderly people, that we need to address”.
It was bitterly cold during the drill. The temperature outside was unexpected low (−17 degree Celsius).

Newsletter, February 2017 by JRCS