An estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of small businesses don’t survive a disaster. When a natural disaster strikes, retail bakeries are not always as resilient as Houston-based Three Brothers Bakery, which survived being closed for nine months after Hurricane Ike in 2008.  

Businesses can do much 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.

Ready Business assists small businesses in developing a preparedness program by providing tools to create a plan that addresses the impact of many hazards. This website and its tools follow an “all hazards approach,” adhering to the program elements within National Fire Protection Association 1600, a national standard adopted by the Department of Homeland Security.

Five critical steps for developing an effective preparedness program

1. Program Management

Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program.

Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program.

2. Planning

Gather information about hazards and assess risks.

Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA).

Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks.

3. Implementation

Write a preparedness plan addressing:

Resource management

Emergency response

Crisis communications

Business continuity

Information technology

Employee assistance

Incident management


4. 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.

5. Program Improvement

Identify when the preparedness program needs to be reviewed.

Discover methods to evaluate the preparedness program.

Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements.