American Red Cross, FedEx Collaborate on Disaster Preparedness Efforts

Following a national telephone survey of small businesses that found almost a quarter of respondents indicating they are planning on taking steps to prepare their businesses for disaster, the American Red Cross and FedEx Corp. have announced that they will create tools to help.

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 22 percent feel prepared for a one month disruption, according to a June 2007 Macro International-conducted survey of 241 small businesses.

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. A downloadable disaster preparedness checklist for small businesses is available at www.fedex.com/smallbiz, as well as discount coupons which FedEx small business customers can use to receive 10 percent off their final purchase of preparedness supplies at the Red Cross online store, www.redcross.org/store, now through Oct. 31, 2007.

"Having responded to more than 75,000 disasters nationwide last year, we've seen first hand how businesses with trained employees, protected resources and plans for operational continuity can decrease the physical and financial impact of a disaster, and lessen the burden on first responders," said Darlene Sparks Washington, director of Preparedness for the American Red Cross. "All businesses should have a disaster plan, but for small businesses, being prepared can make a difference in being able to stay in business after a disaster."

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.

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.

Additional information on how small businesses, individuals, and families can prepare for disasters is available at www.redcross.org.

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