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Seven Helpful Disaster Planning Sites

A surprising 71 percent of small businesses do not have a disaster plan, and another 57 percent say they aren't worried about the impact a disaster can have on their business, according to a 2007 survey conducted for Office Depot. However, the Institute for Business & Home Safety notes that 25 percent of businesses that close during a disaster never reopen. Therefore, financial and management advisors urge business leaders not to downplay emergency preparedness. Instead, they should prioritize adoption of guidelines and practices in readiness for emergency situations ranging from terrorist attacks to hurricanes. Here are 7 sites to help you get organized.

Ready Business

Created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the AARP, National Organization on Disability and The Humane Society, this updated (August 2007) site offers downloadable posters, brochures, tips, powerful business testimonials and background information on everything and anything to do with emergency preparedness by businesses. Online videos contain reminders to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan and stay informed about community emergencies. A free, 64-page Ready Business Mentoring Guide--prepared with the help of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—helps managers in small to mid-sized organizations prepare their employees for such crises. This is a great first site for organizations wondering where to begin.

SBA's Emergency Preparedness

This U.S. Small Business Administration site for its "Get Prepared. Get Involved." initiative contains fact sheets, handouts, press releases, educational materials, online training, public service announcements and links to other disaster recovery and preparation resources.

FEMA's Are You Ready?

Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22) is FEMA's most comprehensive source for individual, family and community preparedness. Updated in August 2004, it provides a step-by-step approach to disaster preparedness and familiarizes you with how local emergency plans work, what a good emergency communications plan looks like, and what to include in a disaster supplies kit. Other topics include evacuation, emergency public shelters and information specific to people with disabilities.

Institute for Business & Home Safety

Created by the Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry, Open for Business is an online toolkit containing 13 forms that, when completed, will form the basis for a business continuity plan in case of emergency. The free, 47-page booklet focuses on three categories of protection: human resources, physical resources and business operations. An especially nice touch is the list of recommended actions small businesses should take if they have only $100, $500 or more than $500 to spend on disaster planning. It also includes a helpful one-page Readiness Self-Assessment Tool and a Disaster Response Checklist. The Association of Contingency Planners, a nonprofit trade association for business continuity professionals, is a longtime partner on this project.

The Business Continuity Institute

The Business Continuity Institute site offers an online registry of disaster planning consultants and a range of free resources, including complete and "pocket-sized summary" online versions of its six-chapter 2007 Good Practice Guidelines and The Pocket-Sized Good Practice Guidelines.

Disaster Recovery Journal

Disaster Recovery Journal is available free online to anyone involved in managing or preparing disaster recovery and business continuity planning in the United States and Canada. A print subscription is $47 (U.S.). Visit the site for a hefty compilation of disaster preparation blogs, guest speakers, webinars, sample plans and more.

Public Administration's Creating an Emergency Plan

Emergency action plans keep you and your family calm and safe in case of a natural disaster, fire or terrorist attack. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that businesses have plans in place in case of an emergency. Planning for these events is just as important for families, in order to ensure everyone is prepared when a disaster occurs.

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