SES Volunteers Association of Western Australia (Incorporated)

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13/12/2010 – Get ready: prepare for summer emergencies

As families prepare for the Christmas break, Telstra is urging Western Australian customers to think about their phone services when preparing for summer emergencies.  Telstra Country Wide Area General Manager for Perth, Guy Champion, said it is not just the physical surroundings of a home that people need to consider.  When we talk about being ready for summer emergencies people commonly think of preparing their surroundings for bushfires, Mr Champion said.   It’s easy to forget that one of the first things we do in an emergency is call for help so it’s really important to take simple steps to make sure we can stay connected to emergency services and of course, to our loved ones.  With the ever increasing reliance on the Internet and telephone services, now is the time to ensure that all telecommunication equipment is in good working order.

Telstra is encouraging WA residents to consider the following tips that have been developed in response to customer enquiries about ways to optimise their telephone services in emergency situations such as bushfires, cyclones and floods.

Telstra’s 10 top tips include:

1.    Think about a Blue Tick mobile phone different mobile phones have different capabilities. Telstra’s Blue Tick accreditation program identifies Next G 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.    Upgrade your 2G SIM  it’s important that customers upgrade their 2G SIM card when purchasing a Telstra Next G mobile handset to receive the benefits of Telstra’s extensive 3G network coverage.
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.

As part of its own front line defences against potential natural disasters, Telstra invested in the development of the first Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW) – a portable, fully functional telephone exchange, specifically designed to provide communications to disaster areas.

The MEOW complements Telstra’s fleet of Cells on Wheels (COW), which are transportable mobile base stations that were used extensively throughout the bushfire-affected regions of Victoria. Telstra technology is also being used as part of the National Emergency Warning System.

Telstra customers requiring further information or assistance should visit their nearest T[life] store, Telstra Shop or dealer.

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