September is National Preparedness Month, an awareness program from the U.S. Homeland Security. As we’ve seen many small businesses hit by personal disasters like a fire and others by mass disasters like hurricanes, we are serious when we urge you to prepare for something you hope you’ll never encounter. The resources below, many developed through information supplied by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other governmental and non-governmental organizations, can help you develop a plan to protect your employees, lessen the financial impact of disasters, and re-open your business quickly to support economic recovery in your community.


Photo | Small businesses in Howard Beach, Queens, New York, during aftermath of Hurricane Sandy taken on 10/30/2012 by Pamela Andrade via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Also on | Preparedness information on the WIKI
Also on | The Guide to Emergency Preparedness

This is a forest back burn or burn out lit by US Forest Service fire specialists. Very few of these trees died and it was generally healthy for the forest. River Complex Fire, Trinity County, California, 2015.


7 Things to do Immediately to Prepare Your Business for a Disaster

1 Create | A preparedness program for your business (outlined in next section)
2 Identify | Critical business systems [PDF]
3 Prepare | An emergency communications plan [PDF]
4 Test | Your business systems
5 Enroll | In the Red Cross Ready Rating Program
6 Build | A disaster preparedness kit
7 Review |’s Guide to Emergency Preparedness

Three rescue workers talking by rescue vehicle (selective focus)


Homeland Security’s outline for a preparedness program for your business

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. 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. has developed the following online tools that utilize an “all hazards approach” and follows the program elements within National Fire Protection Association 1600. (NFPA 1600 is an American National Standard and has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.)

The five steps in developing a preparedness program are Program Management, Planning, Implementation, Testing and Exercises, and Program Improvement. The links accompanying each step will take you to related information and tools at

1 | Program Management

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

Learn more about Program Management here.

2 | Planning

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

Learn more about Planning here.

3 | Implementation

Write a preparedness plan addressing

  • Resource management
  • Emergency response
  • Crisis communications
  • Business continuity
  • Information technology
  • Employee assistance
  • Incident management
  • Training

Learn more about Implemenation here.

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

Find more information on Testing and Exercises here.

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

Find more information on Program Improvement here.

Flood damaged holiday decorations and decor in a pile waiting for disposal outside of a craft shop in Denham Springs, La.  (Photo by J.T. Blatty/FEMA)

Flood damaged holiday decorations and decor in a pile waiting for disposal outside of a craft shop in Denham Springs, La.  (Photo by J.T. Blatty/FEMA)

Disaster Information in Specific Situations


Winter Weather





Cyber Security

Workplace Hazards & First Aid

Related Articles

Business Owners Admit They Aren’t Prepared for Disasters, But Know They Should Be | 2017

It’s as if small businesses were saying, “it could never happen to me.”

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Assistance For Small Businesses From the SBA | 2017

How to apply for an SBA disaster loan

Ready Business Toolkits for Year-Round Disaster Planning | 2018

More resources to help plan for and recover from a small business disaster.

Focusing on Improving Workplace Safety is a Life or Death Matter

According to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, annual workplace fatalities crossed 5,000 workers for the first time in 2016.

Disaster Information From the IRS, SBA & USDA | 2019

Whether it’s a hurricane, fire, flood, earthquake or tornado, there is help before a disaster and during recovery.