Australia–– THE Federal Government has confirmed bushfire, flood and other disaster text-message warnings will be sent directly to mobile phones in danger areas from next month.
The world-first technology will be rolled out by Telstra.
But Optus and Vodafone customers will have to wait until next summer.
In the past, mobile phones have only received warnings if they were registered to an address in the area.
The upgrade of the emergency-alert system, funded by $60 million from the Federal Government, will allow “location-based” warnings.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the location-based alert would be in addition to warnings that include voice messages on landlines and text messages to registered phones.
“Getting emergency warnings out effectively in a disaster is absolutely critical,” Ms Roxon said. “This update will ensure emergency alerts get to the right people at the right time in the right place.”
It comes as Victoria gears up for what some experts fear could be a high-danger bushfire season.
As in previous years, a fleet of six American aircranes to battle fires are being brought to Australia. Elvis and Gypsy Lady will arrive next month and be based in Victoria.
Ms Roxon and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan will also today announce $6 million in government grants for 48 projects to help communities prepare for natural disasters.
Canberra will put in $4.2 million and Victoria $2.1 million.
It will include helping fire authorities to reduce fuel loads, training more volunteers and supporting emergency services personnel.
It will range from money to develop flood plans and test mass casualty triage for ambulance workers to creating an earthquake-risk map for Victoria and removing hazardous trees.
But Canberra and the states are locked in a row about the use of broadband spectrum for emergency services. Federal and state police and emergency services ministers will meet next week in Creswick for more talks.
BUSHFIRE DISASTER TIPS
– Save important contact numbers in your mobile phone, including the State Emergency Service, police, electricity, gas and water hotlines, bushfire information line etc.
– Prepare a family contact sheet
– Download emergency management smartphone apps from www.em.gov.au
– During a disaster don’t use your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos or play online games as it can affect network use by emergency services.
– Have back up power for your phone – charged batteries or a car charger.
– Conserve your mobile battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, closing apps you are not using or placing phone in flight mode.
– Only call Triple Zero (000) if you need urgent medical help or life or property is threatened.