Be Ready and Prepared for Disasters: September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. Here are some resources you can use and steps you can take to make sure your business has adequate emergency plans.


If a disaster like a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado or a terrorist attack occurred, would you, your family and your business be prepared?

September is the sixth annual National Preparedness Month. The U.S. Government and its many private industry and non-profit organization partners are suggesting that all of us become better prepared for emergencies of all kinds.

“National Preparedness Month is about building a culture of personal preparedness and shared responsibility across our country,” said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. “This month, we ask all Americans to visit to learn what they can do to help their families, businesses and communities stay safe during an emergency—whether it be hurricanes like Katrina, the fires we are fighting in California or pandemic influenza.”

“Every American is a critical member of our nation’s emergency response team,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate. “By taking a few simple steps now, each of us can make sure we are better prepared for the next emergency or disaster.”

During my more than 37 years of service in the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department, I learned the value of planning for disasters. I began my service as a 17-year-old seaman on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. The carrier had plans in place for a coordinated response to every type of disaster, from enemy attacks to shipboard fires and accidents.

I learned that training drills must be an intricate part of your emergency plans. I learned that planning and training saves lives.

Later in my service, when I was the administrative officer of a Defense Department command in Philadelphia, I developed and coordinated the command’s emergency plans, such as continuity of operations (COOP), emergency evacuation and Shelter-in-Place plans. I also conducted periodic drills for our military and civilian employees.

As a business owner, you too should have emergency plans in place. You should have a plan to relocate the business in the event of a disaster and you should have both an emergency evacuation plans and a Shelter-In-Place plan.

Depending on the situation, you may want your employees and customers to quickly evacuate your place of business or you may want them to seek shelter indoors.

You should also have emergency supplies on hand, such as an emergency supply kit for each employee and extras kits on hand for customers and visitors. offers recommended lists of emergency supply items one should have and the web site also outlines commonsense measures business owners and managers can take to plan and prepare for disasters. The web site also offers the small business owner practical steps and easy-to-use templates to help one plan for the company’s future.

These recommendations reflect the Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity Standard (NFPA 1600) developed by the National Fire Protection Association and endorsed by the American National Standards Institute and the DHS. It also provides useful links to resources providing more detailed business continuity and disaster preparedness information. notes that how quickly a company can return to business after a terrorist attack, a tornado, a fire, or a flood often depends on emergency planning that is done today. While DHS states they are working hard to prevent terrorist attacks, the lessons of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks demonstrate the importance of being prepared. also notes that when one considers the number of declared major disasters nearly doubled in the 1990’s compared to the previous decade, preparedness becomes an even more critical issue. Though each situation is unique, any organization can be better prepared if it plans carefully, puts emergency procedures in place, and practices for emergencies of all kinds. states that putting a plan in motion will improve the likelihood that you and your company will survive and recover.

For more information on the Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month, visit or—or call 1-800-BE-READY or 1-888-SE-LISTO for more emergency preparedness information.

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