While language services are often called upon after an emergency occurs, to help dealing with specific situations in particular, making information available in multiple languages beforehand is key to maximising the impact of awareness campaigns and minimising the need for emergency services. The city of Tokyo recently published Disaster Preparedness Tokyo, a very comprehensive guide to emergency preparedness both in Japanese and English. The 323-page guide covers many potential disasters, gives information on emergency plans, and includes details on life at the evacuation centre, on rebuilding your life etc. – it even features a manga! If you don’t know how to make an emergency cooking stove or emergency nappies then this guide is a must-read.

Given its location and environment, New Zealand faces many potential disasters too: earthquakes, storms, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions – take your pick. Understandably, the New Zealand government takes emergency preparedness seriously. Similarly to the Japanese authorities, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has been running an awareness campaign for several years now, including last week’s New Zealand ShakeOut, and maintains Get Ready Get Thru, a website specifically devoted to emergency preparedness.

The Translation Service has been providing ongoing support by developing content and resources in 8 community languages. The Get Ready Get Thru website and all its downloadable resources are available in Māori, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Samoan, Tongan, and Arabic.

This is important and valuable work: everyone needs to get ready… even if English is not their mother tongue.