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September 17, 2013

Business Resources for National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, and FEMA has prepared a website with resources to help your business survive a disaster. Recent events, from hurricane Sandy to wildfires and Colorado flooding, make it clear that disaster preparedness is serious business:
  • Up to 40% of businesses affected by a disaster never reopen, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
    Emergency evactuation route floor label with right arrow
  • Customers expect delivery of products or services on time. If there is a significant delay, customers may go to a competitor.
  • Large businesses are asking suppliers about preparedness. Those without a plan risk losing business to competitors who do have one.
  • Insurance does not cover all losses and will not replace customers.
  • Disasters can overwhelm the resources of even the largest public agencies.
  • News travels fast, so businesses may need to quickly reach out to customers.
As part of national Preparedness Month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness levels. There's a lot a businesses can do to prepare for natural or man-made events, accidents and even widespread illness such as the H1N1 flu virus pandemic. The place to start is the business section of FEMA's disaster preparedness website. 
Ready Business provides a variety of tools and resources to help business owners create a plan to address varied hazards. The tools utilize an “all hazards approach” and follow program elements of National Fire Protection Association 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. NFPA 1600 is an American National Standard and has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The site outlines the five steps of developing a preparedness program:
  1. Program Management to help you organize, develop and administer a preparedness program, and identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program.
  2. Planning that includes gathering information about hazards, assessing risks, conducting a business impact analysis and examining ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks
  3. Implementation Steps to help you write a preparedness plan that includes:
  4. hurricane and storm shelter signs- Resource management
    - Emergency response
    - Crisis communications
    - Business continuity
    - Information technology
    - Employee assistance
    - Incident management
    - Training
  5. Testing and Exercises you can perform to evaluate your plan.
  6. Program Improvement steps to help you discover new methods and make improvements.
Resources include a Business Continuity Planning Suite to download. You can also read testimonials from several businesses that implemented emergency planning, and were glad they did.

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