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Emergency Alert is another way to warn the community in the event of an emergency such as bushfires, floods and severe weather events.
The system is operated by emergency management agencies in all States and Territories, who decide if a warning needs to be issued, the area to be warned and the content of the message.
The system can send voice messages to landlines and text messages to mobile phones in an area affected by an emergency. The message will provide information on the current emergency, what action to take and where to find further information.
As of December 2012, mobile phones on Telstra’s networks will receive the text message if they are in the area when the message is sent. As of November 2013 mobile phones on Optus and TPG networks will receive this service.
All mobile telephones that are registered to an address in the warning area, regardless of network, will be sent the text message.
It is important you ensure that the registered service address for your mobile phone is current. You should contact your mobile telephone service provider to update your address. There is no cost to receive the message, you do not need to register and you cannot opt-out. Even if you have a silent number, you will still get an alert.
It is important that you and your community do not rely on receiving an alert. You must still proactive, prepare yourself and have an action plan in case of emergency.
The system will send alerts to both landlines and mobile phones. If you live in a mobile phone “black spot” area or where there is potential for loss of power during an emergency, you should ensure you have a landline telephone that is not reliant on a power connection to receive the message.
The alert you receive will be written and spoken in English so it is important that everyone in our community recognises it. Television, radio and print advertising has been translated into a range of languages as have frequently asked questions, available to download from the Emergency Alert website. When you answer your landline phone you will hear the Standard Emergency Warning Signal, which sounds like this [play as underlay], followed by the words ‘Emergency, Emergency’. If you do not understand the message or its content, you should ask a family member, friend or neighbour for assistance.
0444 444 444 will be displayed as the sender of the message, verifying the message is from an authorised agency. If you call this number back, you will receive a generic voice recorded announcement that states your telephone has received an emergency warning message.
If your children have mobile phones, they too will receive the alert. It is important to explain to them what to do if they receive an alert. If your child receives this alert when they are at school, they must follow the emergency management arrangements currently in place at their school. The same applies if you receive an alert on your mobile phone while at work. Telephone based emergency warnings do not replace existing workplace emergency arrangements. You must follow current emergency management arrangements at your workplace and school.
So how does the system work? There are five stages for issuing an alert:
- The emergency management agency identifies an area on a map
- The system identifies the number of landlines and mobile phones in the area
- The message relating to the emergency situation is prepared
- The message is approved and issued
- The system records the number of messages received.
Landlines will ring for 45 seconds and if unanswered a second attempt is made. If you have an answering machine there is no guarantee that a message will be left. Telephone Typewriter services, or TTY, are not supported.
The system has the capacity to send up to 500 text messages per second and 1,000 voice messages per minute.
It is important that you and your community do not rely on receiving an alert. You must still be proactive, prepare yourself and have an action plan in case of an emergency.
Emergency Alert. Be warned. Be informed.
For further information on the system visit emergencyalert.gov.au.