Prepare your workplace

Businesses are a vital part of how quickly a community recovers following a disaster. Statistics show that businesses that are not open within a few days following a disaster have a much higher chance of going out of business permanently than those who planned and prepared to have their doors open 3-5 days after a disaster. Developing a plan and taking a few easy steps before the disaster happens not only increases the chances that your business will survive the disaster, but it helps the recovery of the entire community. 


The first step in getting started is to figure out what you need to do. Preparation depends a lot on the type and size of your business. Planning is not a one size fits all, luckily there are some great resources available to help you out. 

Seattle Business Magazine printed an article about assessing your business "preparedness". In it the author asks eight simple questions to get business owners and managers focused on where they should start in terms of business preparedness.

The American Red Cross (ARC) Ready Rating is a program that helps businesses, schools and organizations become prepared for disasters and other emergencies.  It is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps a business or school measure how ready they are to deal with emergencies and provides customized feedback on how they can improve their efforts. 

Business Risk Rating Sheet is a simple checklist that can help you decide what may be a threat to your business. Disaster Loss Worksheet is a helpful Excel worksheet for small business owners. It calculates potential disaster costs and helps identify specific areas of high risk and how to prioritize your next steps.

One of the most common reasons people give when asked why they don't plan for disasters is "It won't happen to me", after that it is "Okay, it might happen, but it won't be that bad" and the third reason given is "Okay it might happen but it will be so devastating that it won't matter what I do". In addition, we assume that planning is expensive, but in reality, lack of planning can cost you more money in the long run, and worst yet, it could mean the end of your business following a disaster. The following resources are available and can help you in developing a plan that fits with your individual business needs:

  • The Insurance Institute for Business Safety has a great web site with a free toolkit and training videos to help small businesses develop business disaster and recovery plans. Here is the link:
  • The Disaster Resistant Business (DRB) Toolkit is also a good product. This comprehensive product was created here in Washington State using grant dollars. For businesses outside of Washington State, there is a fee to use this product. However if you are a business in Washington State, Seattle OEM can provide you with a free access code to use the program at no charge. If you would like a key code, please send an e-mail to Include your name, business name, address, phone number and e-mail and we will send you a discount code for the full price of the product.
  • The Small Business Administration has a web site called Prepare My Business. Here is the web site:
  • FEMA has a web site for business preparedness. The best way to access their site is to go to:

If there were a major disaster today, would your employees know what to do? 

Do you have a system to alert everyone to evacuate, shelter in place or lock down the building? 

Do you have someone designated as the "lead" during an emergency? 

Do your employees know who can speak on behalf of the business after a disaster?

Are they familiar with their responsibilities for building and information security?  

Are they expected to show up for work following a disaster? 

Your employees should be able to answer all of these questions and most importantly, they need to be trained to take action to protect themselves and their co-workers in a life safety situation.  

Depending on your business you may need to tailor your training for different subsets of employees. At the very minimum you will want to provide training on what to do to stay safe.  Clear direction on when and where to evacuate the business, earthquake safe actions, security considerations and other life safety issues should be included. From there, you can provide responsibility specific training for those in the organization that will be taking on more formal roles outlined in your plan.  

We can help with basic preparedness information and video training for you and your staff. We can also provide on-site training upon request for groups of 20 or more. Contact us if you have questions, have ideas to share, or are looking for information at (206) 233-5076.