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News Navigator: How do the government's warnings for natural disasters work?

Typhoons have recently lashed Japan with heavy rain and flooding, prompting local governments to issue warnings for residents. The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about the different levels of disaster warnings.

Question: Lots of information about evacuating is broadcast on the TV and radio, but at what point should I evacuate?

Answer: There are three kinds of evacuation warnings released by municipal governments. Remember that in order of decreasing severity, there are "evacuation orders," "evacuation advisories" and "evacuation preparation information."

Q: How are they different?

A: "Evacuation orders" are issued when it has been judged there is a very high risk of residents being affected by a disaster. They call for residents to complete evacuations that are under way. "Evacuation advisories" are requests for residents to begin moving to safer locations. "Evacuation preparation information" is released when municipalities want residents to pay attention to weather reports, pack their evacuation luggage, make contact with family members, and otherwise prepare to leave the area. Municipalities urge the elderly, the disabled, infants and others for whom evacuation will take more time to start being evacuated at this least severe stage.

Q: I've also heard of "emergency warnings." What are they?

A: They are released by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) when a large-scale natural disaster only seen once every few decades is predicted. The criteria for releasing this kind of warning are much stricter than those for a regular warning, and they represent a call for the utmost vigilance.

Q: Where should I evacuate?

A: Previously, it was common to evacuate mainly to shelters, such as those set up in school gyms, but now, sheltering in sites like parks, relatives or friends' houses, tall buildings or on the second floor of one's home are all recognized as evacuation as well. These places are options to keep in mind, because due to water surrounding a home, or nightfall making the way outside difficult to see, there are times when going to an evacuation shelter poses more danger. (By Kosuke Yamamoto, City News Department)

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