MANILA, Philippines – Ordinary entry-level mobile phones or what the phone industry describes as “feature” phones may not be as high-powered and sophisticated as their smartphone counterparts but in times of disasters and natural calamities, these low-powered, low-cost phones may be the only thing that can assure you and your family’s survival.
Unlike smartphones with sophisticated apps and connectivity options, feature phones are as bare-bones as any mobile device can ever get, as it only performs two main functions: calling and texting. This is why you can purchase these phones off the shelf for just a few hundred bucks.
Some feature phones, however, have been padded to include other features to up their market value. But in times of typhoons and other calamities especially in disaster-prone Philippines, these added functionalities practically spell the difference between life and death.
InterAksyon.com has collated five reasons on why you should think about including these low-priced mobile phones in your disaster preparedness kit:
1. You can use it as a flashlight
A number of entry-level phones today come packed with a flashlight, which you can use in case howling winds or torrential rains down power lines over your area. Some phones that do not have flashlights have LED-backlit screens, which are still brighter than most smartphones’ display and can effectively help you navigate through dark rooms and corridors. These lights, however, consume a lot of battery so make sure to use them sparingly.
2. You can listen to news on the radio
Once power goes down during a disaster, most electronic appliances are rendered unusable — save for your mobile phones and other appliances with battery. Not a lot of people today own a radio, but some phones now come with an FM receiver, which you can use to listen to news about the typhoon in your area.
Not a lot of news stations on the FM band? Don’t worry, that’s what Radyo Singko 92.3 FM is for, which is an all-news radio station you can tune in on your FM-only mobile radio. InterAksyon.com is the online news portal of TV5, which operates Radyo Singko 92.3 FM,
Yes, some feature phones are sophisticated enough to have a TV receiver embedded on them, but in the interest of saving battery for prolonged use, the use of TV is not advised.
3. You can send and receive texts — and even request emergency load credits, too
In times of disaster, communication with your family and concerned government agencies is key to survival. At these instances, your mobile phone that can only do calls and texts becomes your sole lifeline. Since most Filipinos now own a mobile phone, keeping tabs of each other’s situation has never been this easy.
But what if your load credits run out? Not a problem! Telcos now offer emergency top-up services, which can load your phone with minimal credits to keep the text messages going. The amount will then be deducted from your credits on your next load.
If you own a Smart SIM card, just dial *767 on your mobile phone and you will automatically receive three text-message credits to all networks and P1.00 airtime load.
If you’re on the Globe network, you can text GTSOS to 3733 to receive three text messages to Globe or TM numbers and P1.00 airtime load.
Both of these emergency text credit services are valid only for one day, so use them wisely but quickly. You can’t make calls using the P1 airtime load but if you previously availed of an unli or bucket service that requires a P1.00 maintaining balance, this would come in handy.
4. You can keep up with announcements on Twitter
Social networking sites may be a good place to connect and be updated with your friends’ lives, but as we’ve proven during calamitous times such as Ondoy in 2009, these online services also play a helpful role in coordinating disaster relief efforts across the country.
TIme and again, Twitter has been one of the more useful tools in disseminating information during typhoons, and from where class suspensions, evacuations, and disaster notices are usually posted–information that are crucial during emergencies. And since Twitter is generally a text-based service, it doesn’t consume as much data bandwidth as Facebook or any other sites, which means you can save both on prepaid credits and battery.
5. You can have food delivered to your home
Food is one of the essential resources, which quickly runs out during typhoons, and power outages only stand to complicate sustenance especially when your cooking appliances are electric. When all else fails, time-tested fast-food joints offer a quick reprieve from hunger, and you can easily enlist their services by calling them on your mobile phone — provided, at least, that the situation is not yet too dire that they can no longer deliver to your area.