New Jersey residents can now receive text message or e-mail alerts with warnings and instructions on major emergencies.

The system, NJ Alert, was introduced yesterday by the state's Office of Emergency Management. It is meant to provide another outlet to keep residents informed about catastrophic events such as hurricanes or terrorist attacks, said Nicholas Morici, an OEM spokesman.

"During an emergency, timely dissemination of accurate information is the cornerstone of public safety. NJ Alert enables us to deliver emergency messages to the public through the convenience of their handheld devices or PCs in addition to our traditional emergency notification systems," said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

Morici said the New Jersey alerts were modeled in part on the Ready Notify PA system that serves Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties as well as Gloucester County, and on a similar program in New York state.

The alerts will be sent to phones or other devices that receive text messages or e-mail.

Many colleges, public school systems, and municipalities also use similar alert programs.

Those interested in receiving the alerts may sign up at www.njalert.gov or www.ready.nj.gov.