A nationwide test of an emergency mobile alert will be held on Sunday.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is leading the introduction of the alert, considered to be New Zealand's new nationwide emergency alert channel.

The live test of the alert will be held on between 6pm and 7pm.

The ministry said people can find out whether their phone can receive the alerts at www.civildefence.govt.nz and ensure their phone is on the most up to date operating system.

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The emergency mobile alert is a new system that will use cell broadcast technology to send alerts to compatible mobile phones in a defined geographical area when their life, health or property may be at risk. The alert is an additional information channel in emergencies - it does not replace other channels such as radio, social media or websites, or the natural warnings signs of emergencies such as tsunami.

What does the test alert look like and what do I need to do when I receive it?
• The alert will look different on different phones, check our website to see what an alert looks and sounds like.
• Read the message, it should have the word 'test', if you have received the alert and it says 'test' there is nothing further for you to do.
• From the date the system goes live this Sunday, if you receive an Emergency Mobile Alert, take the alert seriously, stop what you are doing and follow the instructions. Remember to tune in to other information channels too, such as radio, social media and websites.

How does Emergency Mobile Alert work?
• The alerts are sent using cell broadcast technology, so there is no need to sign up or download an app.
• The alerts can also be targeted to affected areas, so you will only get them if the emergency is in your area.
• If your phone is on, capable of receiving them and inside the targeted area, you should get the alerts.
• Emergency Mobile Alerts use a dedicated signal, so they are more reliable in an emergency when mobile phone and internet traffic could overload the network.
• It doesn't matter which network you are on. Any capable phone entering the targeted area during the broadcast period will receive the alert.

* Not all phones are capable of receiving alerts, so if you receive an alert, let others know. It is expected that around one-third of phones will immediately be able to receive alerts but this will rise over time. You can check whether your phone can receive the alert and find out more at civildefence.govt.nz.

Emergency Mobile Alert messages can only be sent by:
• Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management,
• Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups,
• NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand,
• Ministry of Health, and
• Ministry for Primary Industries.

Emergency Mobile Alert does not replace other channels
Emergency Mobile Alert is another channel used for keeping you safe if there is an emergency. Other channels, such as radio, TV, websites and social media will still be used. The alerts do not replace other alerting systems, or the need to take action after natural warnings.

You should still be prepared for an emergency, and you shouldn't wait to get an alert before you act. If you feel your life may be in danger, don't wait for an official warning. Take immediate action.

If you're near the coast and you experience an earthquake that lasts longer than a minute or makes it difficult to stand up, then head inland or to higher ground immediately. Remember - Long or Strong, Get Gone.

Take the time to make your own emergency plan which includes what to do, where to go, who can help you and who might need your help. You can make a plan online at www.happens.nz.