ALERT: A number of Bundaberg residents received this sms alert during the wild weather on Thursday.
ALERT: A number of Bundaberg residents received this sms alert during the wild weather on Thursday. Contributed

EXPLAINER: What is the SMS alert and why was it sent?

MOBILE phones across the region rang out with an emergency SMS alert as wild weather was about to hit on Thursday.

The alert left some Bundaberg people scratching their heads, asking why they'd be sent such a message.

A Queensland Fire Emergency Service spokesman told the NewsMail it wasn't an opt-in alert and was used as a nationwide alert to help people in an emergency.

The sms sent on Thursday read: "Emergency. QFES VERY DANGEROUS STORM, Likely impact Hervey Bay, Maryborough, and Tiaro. Tornadoes possible. Immediately seek shelter, avoid travel. Info www.bom.gov.au."

The Emergency Alert can be used to issue warnings messages to telephones (landlines and mobile telephones) within a geographical area affected by an emergency.

It is one of many ways emergency services such as police, fire and emergency services, can warn a community of a likely or actual emergency.

It's understood the alert is sent out in the radius of the phone towers within the region where the emergency is.

Since Emergency Alert warning system became operational in December 2009 it has been used on more than 1,250 separate occasions nationally and close to 11 million messages have been issued.

The system has been used in all states and territories for a range of emergencies - these include storm, flood, tsunami, bushfire, storm surge, chemical incident and missing person emergencies.

Emergency Alert is not used in all circumstances.

In an emergency you should use a range of information sources and check them continuously to stay aware of local conditions.

These information sources may include radio, television and state or territory emergency services websites.

The Emergency Alert is a one way messaging system and you cannot phone or send a message to it.

If you call the number, you will only receive a recorded announcement stating that further information should be sought from sources such as radio or emergency services websites.

You can tell the sms is authentic or genuine by the caller ID number or message header on your phone. It will display the number 0444 444 444.

Once the warning message is received you can find out more about the emergency by following directions to a sources of further information such as emergency services websites or telephone information lines.

There is no way to opt out of the alert system.

If you did not receive the text message on your mobile it could be for a reasons including: your text message inbox was full, the emergency services chose other ways to warn people who may be in the affected area at the time of the emergency, your mobile telephone was switched off or was not in a mobile telephone coverage area, the last known location of your handset was not within the warning area at the time of the emergency or you have not updated your registered service address.

It is important that the registered service address of your mobile telephone is up to date.

You can update your registered service address with your telephone service provider.

To find out more www.emergencyalert.gov.au.



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