Be Ready: Preparing Your Business for a Disaster

Sept. 13, 2011
In an effort to promote disaster preparedness during National Preparedness Month this September, Grainger and the American Red Cross offer some tips to help ensure businesses are ready to respond to an emergency event or disaster.

An American Red Cross survey found that nearly 60 percent of Americans are not prepared for a disaster of any kind. And according to FEMA, 40 percent of businesses struck by a disaster never reopen. Of those that do reopen, 25 percent close within 2 years.

“Businesses and schools may face a number of emergencies that could disrupt their operations, including hurricanes and floods, power outages and flu outbreaks,” said Dr. David Markenson, chair, American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “Every person, business and school should be prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors in an emergency, and businesses, organizations and families should prepare ahead of time so people will know what to do and have what they need during a crisis. Encouraging employees to prepare their households may increase their chances of being available to help your business during emergencies.”

To businesses prepare for disasters, Grainger and the American Red Cross offer the following tips:

Build a plan. An effective disaster response plan always starts with a risk analysis to help prioritize the most essential elements for your business. The plan should have clearly defined processes and procedures to quickly move employees to action.

Compile supply kits. As part of planning, stage emergency kits with the basic supplies needed in the event of a disaster to keep employees warm, dry and hydrated, as well as supplies to treat minor injuries. Examples include hand sanitizer, water, hand warmers and a blanket.

Prepare employees. While preparing your business is important, any emergency planning first starts with personal preparedness. In addition to First Aid and CPR/AED training, the American Red Cross provides a variety of resources to help individuals prepare themselves, their homes and their families.

Establish partners. Establish local partnerships that include key organizations such as police, fire, Red Cross, FEMA, utilities, skilled trades and local emergency planning officials. These relationships will help create a network of preparedness in your community.

Practice the plan. Simply having a plan is not enough. Create venues for employees to test the plan by holding mock drills and emergency simulations.

Seek Out Free Resources. Many free emergency planning resources are available to businesses. The Red Cross Ready Rating Program, for example, provides a free, self-guided curriculum designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. FEMA also offers resources at

“While all businesses are at risk for emergencies, the potential loss and speed to ‘return to normal’ can be reduced by effective planning before disaster strikes,” said Patti Julius, Grainger’s marketing strategy manager, emergency preparedness.

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