What would you do if you couldn’t use your phone during a natural disaster?

It’s important to have a plan in place to help you communicate during a natural disaster.

When it comes to natural disasters, Australia has more than its fair share. Bushfires and floods are all too common and have the potential to isolate communities.

We all rely heavily on our phones to get updates and connect with others – and as we’ve seen – that reliance seems to increase during emergencies as we search for updates and information as a natural disaster develops.

But what would you do if power or telecommunications go down and you couldn’t use your phone or internet?

While many Australians have an emergency plan in place that includes packing an emergency kit, preparing properties and having an evacuation plan – less than 4 in 10 who we surveyed said they believe they are prepared for a telecommunications outage during a natural disaster.

There are a few things you can do prior to a natural disaster:

  • Include a portable radio with a spare set of batteries in your emergency kit so you can stay up to date with emergency information.
  • Keep your mobile charged and have a backup power source, like a battery pack.
  • Have a paper copy of contact details for your family and friends, so if you get access to a phone (such as a pay phone), you can call them.
  • Have some cash on hand, as EFTPOS or ATMs may not be working if there is a natural disaster.
  • Prepare an emergency plan and communicate with loved ones about your plans before you have to act on them.
  • Check local weather forecasts and adjust your travel if bad weather is predicted.

If you get caught in a natural disaster and telecommunications services are not available, you should:

  • Follow advice from your local emergency service personnel on the ground and Emergency Alert phone messages if you are able to receive them.
  • If you’re concerned for your safety, don’t wait to be told to evacuate—prepare and leave early.

If power or phone lines go down, emergency service personnel, telecommunications carriers and energy providers will be working hard to get these services back up as quickly as possible. If it looks like it’s going to take longer than anticipated, there are several portable network equipment options, such as Cells on Wheels, Road Muster trucks and generators that can be deployed to provide temporary coverage or power to telecommunications infrastructure. But this can take time, especially if carriers have to wait until conditions are safe, so do what you can to stay connected and safe until you’re back online.

For more information about how to prepare for a telecommunications outage, visit www.infrastructure.gov.au/STAND.