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A typhoon (Japanese: taifu) is a mature, or strong, tropical cyclone. West of the international dateline tropical cyclones are called typhoons, while those east of the international dateline are called hurricanes. Okinawa is located in a region where strong typhoons frequently occur. Recently both 2013 and 2014 were very active with several typhoons hitting Okinawa.
Whether you are headed to the exchange to start your emergency kit from scratch, or refilling used or expired items, include your children in the experience. Teaching your kids from an early age how to be prepared not only keeps them calmer in the event of an emergency, provides them a skill that will last them a lifetime. Not only can you teach them about shopping for the family emergency kit, you can help them put together the "Kid Kit" which contains items they would need, and enables them to feel in control during a potentially frightening experience.
Teach them the difference between "wanting" and "needing" certain items in the case of an evacuation or having to stay elsewhere during a typhoon. For instance do they "need" or "want" that monster truck or five Barbie dolls? Do they "need" or "want" a flashlight or first aid kit? As a parent you can help them understand that while they may want to bring their favorite life-sized stuffed bear, they will actually need extra food for their pet, extra clean socks and underwear, and rain gear.
That said, it is always a good idea to include a source of entertainment for kids in an emergency kit. Just be sure it is easily portable, such as a deck of cards, or a coloring book. In addition, have your children carry an Emergency Contact Card with them to school or when out with friends. Having your kids take part in the preparation for a disaster, will make a traumatic event less stressful not just for them, but for the whole family!
Okinawa does not have an official typhoon season because the potential for development exists year round. The U.S. Military located on Okinawa issues alerts called Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) alerts system to communicate the current condition of readiness. The Kadena AB Weather website has the current TCCOR condition posted along with the implications associated with each condition. From June 1st until November 30th TCCOR 4 will continuously be in effect as the minimum condition of readiness because of the increased chances of a tropical cyclone forming within 72 hours of reaching Okinawa.
Immediate dangers related to typhoons are storm water surges, flooding, landslides and damage from high winds. After a typhoon has passed there are potential dangers such as downed powerlines and structural damage to roads or buildings. Power and water outages may occur with the potential to become hazzardous to those with special needs or those not well prepared.
The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for tropical cyclone forecasts is located in Japan with Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA/RSMC Tokyo) responsible for issuing advisories within the Western Pacific basin. There are also other tropical cyclone warning centers for the northwest Pacific in Honolulu (Joint Typhoon Warning Center), the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Many of the typhoon weather reports are given in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) or Zulu (Z) time. To Convert any of these time zones to the local Japanese Standard Time (JST) add 9:00 hours.
Fortunately with modern technology tropical cyclones can be detected early enough to make preparations. Most typhoons will move through the area in the span of a couple of days, but some may meander, or stall, nearby prolonging the strain on supplies and resources.