Living Infomation

Comprehensive Living Guide for Foreign Residents in Japan

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In Tokyo, roughly 4,000 fires break out annually. Please prepare yourself by learning how to prevent fires and how to take appropriate action should one actually break out.

Calling 119
When you witness a fire, call out in a loud voice and let the neighbors know that there is a fire. Next, make an emergency call to 119, regardless of the size of the fire. Remember that 119 is the number to call in case of fire in Japan.
  • Once you get through to the 119 operator, report the following:
    ・that there is a fire (kaji)
    ・location (address) of the fire
    ・any nearby buildings and/or stores if you don't know the exact address of the site
    ・what is on fire
  • You may call 119 from your mobile phone.
  • When you hear the sirens of the fire trucks, stand outside so that you can help guide them to the fire.
Consult your municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) or fire station if your property was damaged by the fire.

Safe evacuation

You should take the following steps to safely evacuate if you witness a fire:

  • If you detect fire, immediately inform the neighbors about it.
  • Try to put the fire out with an extinguisher or other available tools.
  • If the fire has reached the ceiling, immediately evacuate the premises since it is very dangerous.
  • When you evacuate, protect your nose and mouth from inhaling smoke with a moist handkerchief or towel and proceed by keeping yourself as low as possible.
  • Evacuate to the lower floors since both fire and smoke move fast towards the higher floors.
  • When you evacuate, do not use elevators - always take a staircase.
  • Make a 119 phone call after you have evacuated the premises and secured your own safety.
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Fire prevention

Many fires have been caused by lit cigarettes. If you are a smoker, keep the following in mind to prevent a cigarette fire:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Do not litter with cigarette butts.
  • Do not smoke while walking on a street.
    (You may also be fined in some wards, cities, towns and villages of Tokyo.)
  • Always make sure you have completely put out cigarettes.
  • Put out cigarettes completely by dipping them in water.

Additionally, burners, stoves, heaters, and electrical cords cause many fires. Make a habit of the following to prevent a fire:

  • ever leave burners unattended when you cook.
  • Do not place any objects near burners or heaters such as stoves.
  • When going to sleep or leaving the house, make sure to turn off heating stoves.
  • Regularly clean so that dust does not accumulate inside electrical outlets.
  • Make sure not to break electrical cords or to let them get crushed beneath furniture.
  • Unplug electric appliances when you are away from home for a long time.
It is important that there is an extinguisher within reach in case of fire. Participate in fire drills in your community and brush up your prevention skills with an extinguisher.

Installing a residential fire alarm

Using various forms of buzzer to notify householders, the sensors of residential fire alarms detect the smoke and heat that is generated when a fire breaks out.
In accordance with the Fire Prevention Ordinance that have been implemented by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, all residential buildings in the city are required to be equipped with a residential fire alarm. Additionally, it should be noted that the same regulations also apply to residential complexes such as condominiums and apartment buildings, etc.
If there is anything about the installation of residential fire alarms that remains unclear, please make sure to contact your local fire station for assistance.

Fire extinguishers
  • Portable fire extinguishers are available in different sizes, from types containing a large amount of extinguishing agents, to smaller, lighter types. It is important to know how to handle the extinguisher properly so that you can use it efficiently in a real situation.
  • Extinguishers should be regularly inspected and situated in a location that is easily seen and readily accessible. When choosing a location for an extinguisher, avoid humid and/or sunny places and make sure it stands securely.
  • Used/old extinguishers cannot be collected by your local authority. If you have a malfunctioning or unwanted extinguisher, contact the store where you bought it or its manufacturer for inspection or disposal.
  • You may participate in a local fire drill or at a class provided by the Tokyo Fire Department's Bosaikan (Life Safety Learning Center) to experience the actual use of the extinguisher.
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