Red Cross, FedEx unite to help small businesses prepare for disaster

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A recent national survey of small businesses conducted by the American Red Cross and FedEx Corp. found that while 94 percent of small business owners believe there is a potential for a disaster to seriously disrupt their business within the next two years, only 43 percent feel prepared for a one-week disruption of their business, and only 22 percent feel prepared for a one-month disruption.

Importantly, many businesses do want to become better prepared, with almost a quarter of respondents indicating they are planning on taking steps to prepare their businesses for disaster. Based on these findings, the American Red Cross and FedEx are working together to create tools to help small businesses get prepared.

FedEx and the Red Cross say they have been working together to examine small business disaster preparedness because of the important role small businesses play in the national and global economy, as well as the safety and strength of the communities in which they are located.

The survey data is especially relevant, considering that one in four businesses do not reopen after a major disaster such as a flood, tornado or earthquake, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and considering that small businesses account for more than 99 percent of businesses in the United States alone. While small businesses have taken some steps to prepare their business and their employees in advance of a disaster, they lag behind on several important indicators.

A majority of businesses surveyed have developed employee phone lists for notifications and communication during a disaster (86 percent); ensured the safety of important business files or records (75 percent); and purchased insurance for business disruption or damage (80 percent). But businesses are much less likely to have completed other important steps: Only 41 percent have taken preparedness steps based on the type of disasters common to the business location, and only 55 percent have communicated with employees about their roles before and during a disaster.