We live in unprecedented times, there’s no question. But even with COVID-19 front of mind for so many, we still need to prepare for a season of natural disasters no matter where we are in the country. Here’s the tech you need in your disaster kit to stay connected.
Did you know?
Disasters impact all of us and being prepared can make things a bit easier. We’ll be running a series of blogs in the coming weeks to help you prepare to stay connected in the event you experience a disaster in your area.
First and foremost, it’s important to have an emergency plan in place before a critical incident arrives on your doorstep. That way you can quickly and efficiently evacuate and get you and your family to safety.
When preparing, ensure you consider the following from our emergency toolkit to keep you online and informed.
Mobile phones and portable devices
Invest in an alternative charger.
If you don’t already have one, purchase a phone charger that isn’t dependent on a power outlet. A popular choice is a ‘power bank’ battery pack that can be charged from a power outlet prior to an event and used if grid electricity is unavailable, or a portable solar panel charger or in-car charger.
Back up your data.
Store your important data, like contact information and personal photos, in the cloud using an online service. If you have an Apple or Google device, these smartphones have automatic backups that you can enable for extra peace of mind.
Know your emergency numbers.
Store a list of essential contact numbers for your local Police, Fire, SES teams as well as friends and family on your phone and as a backup. Make sure you include our dedicated disaster assistance number – 1800 888 888.
When you have your list of essential numbers, make sure you make a printed copy to keep in your wallet, purse or bag, and keep a version in your car as well. Power can go out for a week or longer during a disaster. Keeping a printed copy means that if your phone is out of battery and you need an important phone number, you have it handy at all times.
Consider a satellite phone.
In rural and regional areas, a satellite phone should usually be independent of any damaged infrastructure and can operate in remote locations. If your communications are critical or if you are in an isolated area, a satellite phone backup could come in handy. And if you only have one, make sure it is charged and accessible in the event you do need to use it.
Consider a repeater device
Like any mobile network, coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network depends on where you are, the mobile handset, tablet or mobile broadband device you’re using, and whether an external antenna can be attached. It’s important to understand that different devices have different capabilities.
Legal network coverage extension devices amplify the network signal your mobile device receives, which extends the area that your device can work in. These devices can help you connect to the Telstra Mobile Network from further away than normally possible, or in areas where signal may struggle to penetrate – such as indoors, or in hilly or dense terrain.
It’s important to note that boosters are illegal to own or operate on any network in Australia, and they can disrupt or even prevent others from making calls to emergency 000.
Legal wireless network coverage extension devices, such as the Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna and Telstra Go, are also known as ‘repeaters’ as they repeat the signal from one location to another.
Fixed line phones
Home phones on the NBN are different.
Since the NBN carries your home phone line, it will be unavailable during a power outage. It’s best to have a mobile phone or satellite phone handy for this instance, especially in remote areas.
Enable Wi-Fi calling.
If cellular network signal is down during a disaster, you can still use your mobile phone to make and receive calls and text messages, provided it supports Wi-Fi Calling. Wi-Fi Calling provides basic voice-calling capability on compatible devices when you’re connected to a supported Wi-Fi network and can’t connect to the Telstra Mobile Network.
We have also switched on SMS over Wi-Fi, allowing you to receive texts via your fixed home network
Keep a corded phone.
A cordless fixed line phone is convenient, but remember, most cordless phones rely on electric power to operate, so you may lose the use of your landline during a power outage. A corded phone draws its electricity directly from the phone line (excluding fixed line phones on NBN) and can be used during a power outage.
Keeping In Touch
Set up a virtual meeting place. If you have internet access, an instant messaging group chat with friends and family, or a social media site like Facebook or even Instagram, can give you and your loved ones extra information during a time of crisis.
Establish a calling tree: If mobile services have been impacted, find your local payphone – which is a fixed line service, and is more likely to withstand disaster impacts – and call a key contact who can then call other family and friends to inform them you’re safe.
Evacuation locations: Know where your local evacuation centre and emergency meeting spots are and what different routes you can use to get there as some roads may not be accessible during the disaster.
Download emergency services apps. These official apps will give you the most up-to-date information on what’s happening in your area, including natural disaster warnings.
Be alert. Subscribe to services that will alert you to weather changes, road closures and updates from other service providers in your area.
Use local information sources. Online, social media accounts for your local authorities and emergency services will share crucial information. Your local broadcaster will also share information over the radio – make sure you have a battery-powered radio or car radio to listen in on.
Below we’ve provided a preliminary list of information sources you may want to consider.
Government agencies for emergency response information:
- Triple Zero
- New South Wales Emergency
- Queensland Emergency
- ACT Emergency Services Agency
- Victoria Emergency
- TAS Alert
- Alert SA
- Western Australia Emergency
- NT Emergency Service
- Federal Government Disaster Assistance
Other critical information websites: