Your voicemail can be a lifesaver in times of disaster
February 28, 2022
Most people who have a mobile phone have a message bank or a voicemail service as part of the deal.
Many who have a fixed phone/NBN service have a message bank or a voicemail service as part of the deal.
Depending who provides your service and what level of service you get, you may be able to access voicemail remotely or when your mobile is dead or out of range.
And even if you have no remote access, if you are in a tricky situation such as having to evacuate in floods, you can use that voicemail service to assist others who may be concerned about you.
By changing your message you can alert callers to your situation and give them vital information.
Before your phone battery goes flat and before you leave an area with reception do this:
Change your message to clearly and simply state what is happening. For example:
“Hi, this is Kim and Chris and we are evacuating with kids and pets because of flooding. We expect to be in the Mugwump evacuation centre by 2pm today, February 28. We may not have phone reception there and may need to move on as events develop. If it’s urgent, please contact my (sister, son etc) on 04XX. I’ll repeat that number in a moment. We will try to keep this message updated. Here’s my (sister, son etc) number again 04XX.”
Once you reach the centre, update the message if you can.
If you can’t, it will have to wait until you get to an area with reception.
However, if you don’t make it to the intended destination, it is important to let the relevant authorities (usually your local coordinator for SES, RFS, Red Cross etc) know where you are, so you don’t trigger an unnecessary search.
You can usually access your message bank from any phone – landline or mobile – as long as you have the message bank password – not the same as your phone password.
The method will vary, see below.
This bit is key
Remember, it is really important to update the message as circumstances change so you don’t create fresh problems.
Our community support crews have better things to do than go hunting for people who are safe.
If after you get full access to your phone service your calls are still going straight to your message bank you may have Aeroplane Mode or Do Not Disturb turned on.
To turn it off you may be able to pull down a menu from the top of your screen. Otherwise go to your Settings, select Do Not Disturb or Aeroplane Mode and toggle it off.
Texts (SMS no pictures, emojis or videos) can often get through where phone calls, data services and MMS (multimedia messages) can’t.
Here’s how my phone service handles it using Telstra’s message bank
If I can’t use my phone – it is dead flat or I’m out of range, I use another phone to call my mobile and when the call diverts to voicemail and I hear my greeting, I press the hatch key # and type in my password and it gives me all the usual options.
I can get my messages, save any that are relevant and create a new greeting.
If you don’t know your voicemail pin, the default is usually the last 4 digits of your phone number or 0000 – that’s how those celebrities had their phones hacked, they hadn’t changed their pins.
Can you access your home phone’s messages through another service provider?
Telstra home messages 101, no. Telstra message bank, yes. Optus home, office or mobile, see the section below.
If you are using Telstra Home Messages 101, you will have the standard greeting that cannot be changed. If you are using Telstra’s message bank it can be changed to a personalised greeting. Follow the prompts after your messages have played.