The secret, it seems, is preparing for mental health as well as physical safety.

The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami is a great reminder of the importance of being prepared in the event of a natural disaster. And with an increasing number of earthquakes happening in the Pacific region lately, many people are worried that another big earthquake could be hitting Japan at any time, so more emphasis than usual is being placed on disaster preparedness.

If you haven’t prepared an emergency kit yet, now’s a good time to start. Luckily there are plenty of resources out there to help you, like this YouTube video made by Japanese bottled water (and other drinks) manufacturer, Suntory, and Sendai-based newspaper, Kakuko Shinpo.

The two companies asked more than 50 people who survived the 3.11 disaster which items they realized they needed most in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, and they’ve recorded some of their answers in the above video. As you would guess, many respondents answered with common sense things like a lantern and baby formula, but the reasoning behind them is not always what you would expect.

For example, the lantern was shared by a company president, who spoke not only about its usefulness for light, but for the soul as well. He said that the power outages after the earthquake was the first time he’d ever experienced nights without a single electric light. “It’s really dark,” he said. “It’s scary.”

He had 20 people gathering at his home at night around a single lantern, and not only having that light, but also having everyone gathered around it, talking and spending time together, really helped him feel like everything would be okay.

The second participant featured in the video, a young man who was in fourth grade at the time of the earthquake, said that a deck of playing cards saved his family from the stress of the major disaster. “My mother was always happy and laughing, but after the disaster she changed, was really anxious all the time,” he said. “When we were playing cards was the only time we as a family could all laugh and smile.”

Baby formula was what saved a woman and her one-year-old daughter. The stress of evacuating with a small child–who was likely feeling and responding to the fear and anxiety around her–was probably a tremendous strain for the mother, who said, “I evacuated with just her in my arms. I didn’t bring anything.” But when someone gave her a cup of formula to feed her fussy child, and her daughter fell asleep, she felt extremely grateful for the kindness of the community.

What the survivors seemed to remember most is not the practicality of the items, but the feelings those items invoked in them. The gathering of family and friends around a light to talk and keep each other company, the relief of playing cards together, the community feel of sharing resources…all were just as important as the things themselves.

“You’re not finished if you’ve only prepared objects,” says the narrator in the video. “‘Preparation starts with thinking about the things that will support your body and your mind.”

While the video themes itself on the survival of the heart, Suntory and Kakuko Shinpo have also prepared a website that lists the practical items that 3.11 survivors found most useful–or found they really could have used–when living without access to electricity, gas, or water. There are some good items on there you might not have thought to pack in your kit, for reasons you might not have considered before, so if you live in a place prone to disaster, it’s worth browsing.

Many of the things on the list can even be found at the hundred yen store, so even if you don’t have much to spend, take time to pick a few necessities and prepare an emergency supply bag for yourself. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but at least it will be there if you do.

Source: YouTube/ サントリー公式チャンネル (SUNTORY), Suntory via Netlab
Top image: Suntory

Insert images: YouTube/ サントリー公式チャンネル (SUNTORY)
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