The sound of Civil Defence sirens will be heard throughout Napier this morning - five days earlier than usual.
As Napier Civil Defence manager Angela Reade explained, the annual testing of the sirens usually takes place at the start of daylight saving, which is next Sunday.
However, it was decided to bring that forward as it would fit in well with the nationwide New Zealand ShakeOut drill - the first ever national earthquake awareness event where people from Kaitaia to Bluff are being encouraged to "drop, cover and hold" at 9.26am.
"It provides a fitting reminder for everyone, from schools and businesses to individuals, to practise their earthquake drill," Mrs Reade said.
"With so many ShakeOut participants practising their own emergency plans and procedures, the drill provides the perfect opportunity to test Civil Defence siren systems and procedures."
However, there were no ironclad assurances that everyone would hear the sirens, as several factors had affected activations in the past, she said.
"Other loud noises, wind, distance from the siren location, elevation and topography may affect the siren noise output," she said.
"It is possible that some residents in Esk Valley, Poraiti, Taradale and Meeanee may not hear the sirens."
She said that as in previous activations, when the siren system was tested, Civil Defence wanted to avoid residents and visitors becoming alarmed or frightened.
"We ask for the public's assistance in informing neighbours about the siren test and what is going to happen."
Nationwide, more than 1.2 million people have signed up to take part in the ShakeOut test.
Among the participants in the Government-organised nationwide event, will be people at thousands of businesses and the teachers and pupils of about 2000 schools.
Hawke's Bay schools stage regular emergency awareness drills and in preparation for today's test, some, like Mahora School, have had a couple of practice runs.
Mahora pupils staged a test last Friday where they were run through the drills by Civil Defence officers and members of the emergency services.
For people taking part, the message is to drop to your knees, cover your head and neck, get under a sturdy table as shelter, and hold on.
Vince Cholewa, public information manager at the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, urged everyone in New Zealand to take part in the exercise.
"This is the first nationwide ShakeOut event we have organised and the response has been overwhelming."