Cyclone Yasi’s impact in North Queensland and Far North Queensland is not over for some in our community who are still trying to get back on their feet. We are thinking of those who still have tarpaulins on their roof or unfinished repairs as we head into another cyclone season.

With this year’s cyclone season bearing down on us, it is important to remember the lessons learned from Cyclone Yasi and the impact on how you can stay connected with family and friends. Telecommunication infrastructure relies on mains power. As you know, we had significant power outages across most of the cyclone impact zone. We had so many generators at our telecommunication sites, that at one stage I thought we had moved from being a telecommunications company to a power generation company!

Without mains power at home or at your business, cordless phones will not work, please make sure you have a corded handset in your cyclone kit to plug into your phone socket. Also, think about how you will recharge your mobile phone if you lose power for an extended period. A car charger is a great alternative or you can purchase emergency mobile phone chargers which use AA batteries.

Personally, I lost power for seven days at my home in Townsville. I finally tracked down my corded handset in the kids cubby house as I hadn’t needed it for years! I am better prepared this year as I have added this phone to my cyclone kit.

Telstra’s preparations are in full swing for this cyclone season. We have additional fuel and generators permanently located in some network sites. Telstra has a number of mobile base stations and exchanges on the back of trucks located throughout Queensland and these are ready for deployment to reconnect communities if Telstra’s infrastructure sustains physical damage. I encourage everyone to be prepared this cyclone season – with a bit of luck it will be a nice quiet one.

Telstra’s 10 top tips to help you prepare are:

  1. Think about a Blue Tick mobile phone – different mobile phones have different capabilities. Telstra’s Blue Tick accreditation program identifies mobile handsets that offer superior handheld coverage performance in country areas.
  2. Consider a standard fixed phone – power failures will affect cordless PSTN phones and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services that require 240V power to operate. Customers using VoIP should check with their service providers.
  3. Have a spare mobile battery – it’s advisable to have a spare, fully charged battery on stand-by.
  4. Carry additional mobile phone chargers – an in-car and a separate AC mains charger are essential in case of evacuation.
  5. Back-up your business data – information is valuable – makes sure it’s stored safely away from your place of business. Using ‘cloud’ technology, it can be easily backed up in Telstra’s network.
  6. Keep essential numbers close by – have a list of essential contact numbers close at hand, including local Police, Fire, SES and Telstra’s fault line – 132203.
  7. Use Triple Zero (000) appropriately – only call Triple Zero in life threatening emergencies. If your situation is not time critical but requires the attention of an emergency services organisation, you should call alternate emergency services’ numbers.
  8. Keep calls to a minimum – although Telstra monitors the network closely in times of emergency to avoid congestion, it’s advisable to keep calls to a minimum during natural disasters to allow people to call emergency service organisations.
  9. Gauge the benefits of a satellite phone – if living or travelling in isolated areas, consider purchasing a satellite phone for continuous phone coverage.
  10. Consider a Yagi antennae – having one of these antennas maximises mobile phone reception from your home or vehicle.

All the best for the Summer season.