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During typhoons, your phone can be your lifeline - Smart Communications

Philippine Typhoons

With the onset of the typhoon season, leading wireless services provider Smart Communications reminds its subscribers to take extra precaution and to have their phones typhoon-proof. More details after the jump.

In 2011, the Philippines grappled with 33 natural disasters, topping the list of countries in terms of the number of occurrence of natural disasters based on a study of the United Nations on international Strategy for Disaster Reduction. These typhoons have caused billions of pesos in damages to agricultural crops, infrastructure and properties, and even loss of lives.

A mobile phone, according to Smart, can be your lifeline these crucial times and as such, a must-have in every household’s typhoon preparedness kit.

“We must realize that typhoon or disaster preparedness should start in every home. It is the responsibility of every family to plan and get ready for calamities,” said Ramon Isberto, head of Smart’s Public Affairs.

“Making our mobile phones typhoon-ready is one of the easiest and most simple steps we could do for typhoon awareness,” he added.

Smart recommends fully charging mobile phones upon announcement of any upcoming weather disturbance.

To optimize the battery life, adjust the phone settings such as volume, backlight brightness and data connectivity, and have extra batteries ready and charged in case of power outages that could last for days.

One can’t also go wrong with having extra prepaid load cards on hand, and investing in solar or crank chargers. Having a water-proof case or a re-sealable bag for the phones and chargers would also be a wise move.

Save numbers of family members on speed dial and keep handy a list of emergency numbers, including response agencies like the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and relief agencies like the Philippine National Red Cross. Contact details of television and radio stations as well as local government units and hospitals must also be in the list.

Although there are mobile units that can now be used as radios and flashlights, Smart says it is better to have the mobile phone reserved for communication purposes, and to have actual battery-operated radios and flashlights ready.

Smart is doing whatever is necessary to ensure the continuous provision of wireless communication services during typhoons and other disasters.

The telco giant is closely watching its network to monitor any downtime or outage in its network operations center manned 24/7 with a disaster response plan enhanced by lessons learned during typhoons and disasters in the past.

When storm signals are raised, Smart goes into heightened alert, particularly in areas declared to be in the typhoon’s path. Standard procedures dictate that areas declared critical must already have an average of five days’ fuel supply or backup power, network personnel should be at the site to do troubleshooting the minute it is declared safe to do so, alternative communication like Smart Link satellite phones are on hand in case there is no signal, and the nearest contractors are on standby for any needed assistance.

“It is our obligation to subscribers to keep our network up and running and to maintain our subscribers’ connections especially in circumstances when they might need communication the most,” said Isberto.

“As before, our engineers were briefed and prepared to be always on the alert and to respond to any connectivity problem that should arise,” he added.

Smart has been setting up free call and charging stations in places severely affected by typhoons, floods and power outages.

The telco has also launched emergency services that its subscribers can use like the emergency text loan service for its prepaid subscribers. Called Dial *SOS, this service allows Smart users with zero balance to pull P4 worth of emergency credits (three text messages to Smart plus P1 airtime) by dialing *767 or the keypad numbers corresponding to *SOS. The amount will be charged on the subscriber’s next reload.

Smart has partnered with weather bureau PAGASA to bring weather updates through SMS. To get started, subscribers only need to register for free by texting ULAN REG Name/Address/Age to 717-ULAN or 7178526.

Subscribers with mobile Internet functionality may tap Smart’s various data packages to access official Facebook and Twitter accounts of various organizations and agencies to receive official bulletins or to report their situation.

Those with handsets having Android and IOS capabilities may download typhoon info and emergency preparedness apps for online services.

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