There’s no question that we live in unprecedented times. But even being mindful of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we still need to prepare for natural disasters no matter where we are in the country.

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 yourself and your loved ones to safety.

When preparing, ensure you consider the following tips from our emergency toolkit. Some of these require an investment of time and planning, but some – like a non-electronic list of essential emergency contact numbers – are simple and quick enough to tackle straight away for peace of mind.

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 to make sure your photos are always saved.

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 non-electronic, ideally waterproofed, 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.

You can also take a look at our range of repeaters and extenders to see if one suits your needs.

Fixed line phones and nbn

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’ve also switched on SMS over Wi-Fi, allowing you to receive texts via your fixed line connection when you’re in Wi-Fi coverage. Here’s our FAQ on how to set it up in case you haven’t already.

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 during disaster

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.

Know your 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 to changing conditions. 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.

Other help you might need

Below we’ve provided a short list of some official information sources from various federal, state and territory governments that you should read if you’re preparing yourself and your home against disaster.

Government agencies for emergency response information:

Other critical information websites: