Emergency preparedness extends to business planning

September is National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme — “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can” — focuses on the goal to increase the number of individuals, families and communities that engage in preparedness actions at home, work, business, school and places of worship. Part 4 of a four-part series:

Did you know that up to 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen? Yet in spite of the obvious benefits of having an emergency plan in place, nearly two-thirds of business owners say they don’t have one.

Businesses can do a lot to prepare for the impact of the many hazards they face in today’s world, including natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and widespread serious illness such as the H1N1 flu virus pandemic. Human-caused hazards include accidents, acts of violence by people and acts of terrorism. Examples of technology-related hazards are the failure or malfunction of systems, equipment or software.

The Department of Homeland Security sponsors a resource called Ready Business to assist firms in developing a preparedness program. There are five steps:

Program management

  • Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program.
  • Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program.


  • Gather information about hazards and assess risks.
  • Conduct a business impact analysis.
  • Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks.


  • Write a preparedness plan addressing resource management, emergency response, crisis communications, business continuity, information technology, employee assistance, incident management and training.
    Testing and exercises
  • Test and evaluate your plan.
  • Define different types of exercises.
  • Learn how to conduct exercises.
  • Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan.

Program improvement

  • Identify when the preparedness program needs to be reviewed.
  • Discover methods to evaluate the preparedness program.
  • Use the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements.

To develop an “all hazards approach,” DHS has adopted a standard for developing a business preparedness program.

KnoWhat2Do is a regional North Central Texas preparedness program that promotes Think, Prepare and Act strategies to enable your family to become prepared for any incident.

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