Bay of Plenty residents can now sign up to receive civil defence text alerts when there is a significant emergency in the region.
Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management will send out the messages in the case of a serious threat to life and property.
This includes tsunami warnings, major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and severe weather events when time is of the essence in getting people to take action.
In a release today, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council said it would be a very short simple message outlining the threat and telling people to listen to the radio for more information.
Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management regional manager Clinton Naude said anyone could subscribe free to the text alert system through the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence website.
"Even if you live out of the region but have friends, family or property in the Bay you may want to sign up to receive a text message for serious emergencies," Mr Naude said.
"People won't get inundated with texts from us; this system will only be used for significant threats to life or property where time is critical. We will continue to use media, the website and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for other alerts, warnings and general information or public education.
"We hope we will never have to use it, but we'd like as many people as possible to sign up for the service. Most people have a cell phone nowadays, from children to the elderly, and this is a simple way to be informed if something serious happens. Once the threat is over people will also get an all-clear message," Mr Naude said.
The council said a similar system was operating in Auckland and a few smaller regions, but the Bay was among the centres leading the way in implementing the text alert system. Close to 1000 people are already subscribing to the text system.
"Get all your family, friends, workmates and neighbours to sign up. The more people who participate, the better prepared we all will be in a serious emergency," he said.