A few days ago, I spotted a headline in the local morning paper: “SBA Partners with the Red Cross to Promote Disaster Planning.” We’ve written some posts in the past that dealt with the importance of DR planning, and how to go about it, so this piqued my curiosity enough that I visited the Red Cross “Ready Rating” Web site. I was sufficiently impressed with what I found there that I wanted to share it with you.
Membership in the Ready Rating program is free. All you have to do to become a member is to sign up and take the on-line self-assessment, which will help you determine your current level of preparedness. And I’m talking about overall business preparedness, not just IT preparedness. The assessment rates you on your responses to questions dealing with things like:
- Have you conducted a “hazard vulnerability assessment,” including identifying appropriate emergency responders (e.g., police, fire, etc.) in your area and, if necessary, obtaining agreements with them?
- Have you developed a written emergency response plan?
- Has that plan been communicated to employees, families, clients, media representatives, etc.?
- Have you developed a “continuity of operations plan?”
- Have you trained your people on what to do in an emergency?
- Do you conduct regular drills and exercises?
That last point is more important than you might think. It’s not easy to think clearly when you’re in the middle of an earthquake, or when you’re trying to find the exit when the building is on fire and there’s smoke everywhere. The best way to insure that everyone does what they’re supposed to do is to drill until the response is automatic. It’s why we had fire drills when we were in elementary school. It’s still effective now that we’re all grown up.
Once you become a member, your membership will automatically renew from year to year, as long as you take the self-assessment annually and can show that your score has improved from the prior year. (Once your score reaches a certain threshold, you’re only required to maintain that level to retain your membership.)
So, why should you be concerned about this? It’s hard to imagine that, after the tsunami in Japan and the flooding and tornadoes here at home, there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t get it. But, just in case, consider these points taken from the “Emergency Fast Facts” document in the members’ area:
- Only 2 in 10 Americans feel prepared for a catastrophic event.
- Close to 60% of Americans are wholly unprepared for a disaster of any kind.
- 54% of Americans don’t prepare because they believe a disaster will not affect them – although 51% of Americans have experienced at least one emergency situation where they lost utilities for at least three days, had to evacuate and could not return home, could not communicate with family members, or had to provide first aid to others.
- 94% of small business owners believe that a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next two years.
- 15 – 40% of small businesses fail following a natural or man-made disaster.
If you’re not certain how to even get started, they can help there as well. Here’s a screen capture showing a partial list of the resources available in the members’ area:
You may also want to review the following articles and posts:
- Our earlier blog post on Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.
- Our newsletter article from the July, 2010, issue of Moose Views on personal disaster preparedness.
And speaking of getting started, check this out: Just about everything I’ve ever read about disaster preparedness talks about the importance of having a “72-hour kit” – something that you can quickly grab and take with you that contains everything you need to survive for three days. Well, for those of you who haven’t got the time to scrounge up all of the recommended items and pack them up, you may find the solution at your local Costco. Here’s what I spotted on my most recent trip:
Yep, it’s a pre-packaged 3-day survival kit. The cost at my local store (in Woodinville, WA, if you’re curious) was $69.95. That, in my opinion, is a pretty good deal.
So, if you haven’t started planning yet, consider this your call to action. Don’t end up as a statistic. You can do this.