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Protect Your Business

In addition to emergency planning, there are steps you can take to both safeguard your company and secure your physical assets.

Need Help? The American Red Cross Ready Rating program is a free, self-guided program designed to help businesses better prepare for emergiencies.

Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed or simply interrupted for a period of time. Insurance policies vary, check with your agent or provider. The Insurance Discussion Form can help guide the conversation.

  • Meet with your insurance provider to review current coverage for such things as physical losses, flood coverage and business interruption. Understand what it covers and what it does not.
  • Understand what your deductible is, if applicable.
  • Consider how you will pay creditors and employees.
  • Plan how you will provide for your own income if your business is interrupted.
  • Find out what records your insurance provider will want to see after an emergency and store them in a safe place.

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- Insurance Discussion Form


Your employees and co-workers are your business's most important and valuable asset. Learn what people need to recover after a disaster.


The force of some disasters can damage or destroy important equipment. Conduct a room-by-room walk-through to determine what needs to be secured.

  • Attach equipment and cabinets to walls or other stable equipment.
  • Place heavy or breakable objects on low shelves.
  • Move workstations away from large windows, if possible.
  • Elevate equipment off the floor to avoid electrical hazards in the event of flooding.
  • Know your Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system well. Develop and practice shut-down procedures for the HVAC system.
  • Secure outdoor air intakes. HVAC systems can be an entry point and means of distributing biological, chemical and radiological threats. Be sure any security measures do not adversely impact air quality or fire safety.

Utility disruption

Businesses depend on electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewer and other utilities. Plan ahead for extended service disruptions during and after a disaster:

  • Carefully examine which utilities are vital to your business's day-to-day operation. Speak with service providers about potential alternatives and identify back-up options.
  • Learn how and when to turn off utilities. If you turn the gas off, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
  • Consider purchasing portable generators to power the vital aspects of your business in an emergency. Never use a generator inside as it may produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  • Use cell phones, walkie-talkies, or other devices that do not rely on electricity as a back-up to your telecommunications system.
  • Plan a secondary means of accessing the Internet if it is vital to your company's day-to-day operations.
  • If food storage or refrigeration is an issue for your business, identify a vendor that sells ice and dry ice in case you can't use refrigeration equipment.


Take steps to secure your physical assets.

  • Create building and site maps with clearly marked critical utility and emergency routes. Keep copies of these documents with your emergency plan and other important documents in your kit.
  • Plan for mail safety with a United States Postal Service guide to teach employees to be able to quickly identify suspect packages and letters.
  • Install fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in appropriate places.
  • Consider if you could benefit from automatic fire sprinklers, alarm systems, closed circuit TV, access control, security guards or other security systems.
  • Post emergency numbers for easy reference.
  • Consider all the ways in which people, products, supplies and other things get into and leave your building or facility.
  • Plan how to replace or repair vital equipment if it is damaged or destroyed.
  • Develop relationships with other companies to use their facilities if a disaster makes your location unusable.


Every computer is vulnerable to attack. Protecting your data and information technology systems is critical and may require specialized expertise. Depending on the particular industry and the size and scope of the business, cyber security can be very complicated. However, even the smallest business can be better prepared.

The consequences of such an attack can range from simple inconvenience to financial catastrophe. While a thief can only steal one car at a time, a single hacker can cause damage to a large number of computer networks and can wreak havoc on both your business and the nation's critical infrastructure.

  • Back up your computer data.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date.
  • Change passwords frequently.
  • Unless you really need the ability to share files, your best bet is to do away with it.
  • Use hard-to-guess passwords. Passwords should have at least 8 characters with a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers.
  • Make sure your co-workers know what to do if your computer system becomes infected.
  • Check your computer operating system to see if it allows others to access your hard-drive. Hard-drive access can open up your computer to infection.
  • Regularly download security protection updates known as patches. Patches are released by most major software companies to cover up security holes that may develop in their programs.
  • Install multiple door locks and a high-tech security system at your office.
  • Protect your computer from Internet intruders by using firewalls (software and hardware).
  • Subscribe to the Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Awareness System, to receive free, timely alerts on new threats and learn how to better protect your area of cyberspace.
  • Download a Cyber Awareness Month Fact Sheet.
  • Visit the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) for the latest Cyber security updates.
  • Visit  Stop. Think. Connect. Small Business Resources for more tips and tools.