Take Action to Prepare Your Business

business preparedness

Preparing for emergencies is important, whether you run a public, private, community or nonprofit organization. It doesn't take a lot of time or money to make a plan and be prepared.

Follow the five steps below to ensure that your organization continues to operate during and after an emergency.

Step 1: Assess the Hazards

New York City is no stranger to emergencies including fires, severe weather, and telecommunication and transportation disruptions. Consider how these emergencies may affect your ability to do business (e.g., a power outage may impact your ability to accept credit cards). Tip: decide which hazards are most likely to affect your business and plan for those first.
Learn more about the hazards that affect New York City

Step 2: Plan to Stay in Business

Planning before a disaster will help you return to operations more quickly. Start by taking the following steps:

  • Identify operations that are critical to business functions and recovery.
    • Determine which staff, materials, procedures, contacts, and equipment are necessary to keep your organization operating.
  • Make a list of your most important contacts/clients and plan ways to communicate with them during and after a disaster.
  • Coordinate with vendors, suppliers, and others you depend on to do business.
  • Keep copies of important records you may need to rebuild your business in a waterproof, fireproof, portable container. Keep a second set at an off-site location.
  • Review your plans annually. Just as your business changes over time, so do your preparedness needs. When you hire new employees or when there are changes in how your company functions, you should update your plans and inform your people.
  • Consider enrolling in the Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS). CEAS authorizes essential employees to access restricted areas following an emergency.

More Resources

  • Learn more about planning for and protecting your business from Ready.gov.

Step 3: Talk to Your People

Your employees are your business's most valuable asset. It's important to talk to your employees often about what to do before, during, and after an emergency. Set up a call tree, an email alert, or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employees. When creating a plan, consider your employees' special needs. You should also encourage employees to prepare for emergencies at home. Remember: one of the best methods to ensure your company's recovery is to provide for your staff's well-being.

More Resources

  • Get your organization more involved in preparedness by joining Partners in Preparedness
  • Learn about personal preparedness from Ready New York
  • Get a free "Event in a Box" complete with everything you need to host your own Ready New York personal preparedness event. Partners can also request a personal preparedness tabling event or presentation through NYC Emergency Management's Ready New York program.
  • Stay informed about local emergencies through Notify NYC (for general public) and CorpNet (for business).
  • Download the Ready NYC app, available for Apple iOS and Android.

Step 4: Protect Your Investment

In addition to protecting your employees, it is important to protect your company's physical and virtual assets. Take the following steps:

  • Review your insurance coverage, and understand what your policy covers. Consider expanding your insurance to include coverage for direct and indirect costs associated with a disaster.
    • Examples of direct costs include hazard-specific property insurance (e.g., fire, flood), and data breach and cyber liability insurance.
    • Examples of indirect costs include business interruption/continuation policy insurance, business income insurance, and extra expense insurance.
  • Think about what equipment is necessary for the survival of your business and where you will obtain replacement parts if it is damaged.
    • Every organization depends on electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewers, and other utilities. Have a plan in place in case these services are disrupted.
  • Protect your data and information technology systems. Create back-up copies of all of your information and them somewhere safe.

More Resources

Step 5: Know How to Respond

Every business should have an emergency action plan. This plan focuses on alerting employees to an emergency or an evacuation, the method for reporting emergencies to local officials, and evacuation plans. Think about how to coordinate with others and meet with other businesses in your building or industrial complex. Plan to conduct evacuation drills and other emergency exercises together. Talk with first responders, emergency managers, community organizations, and utility providers. Plan with your suppliers, shippers, and others you regularly do business with.

Learn how to make an emergency action plan from FDNY and www.osha.gov.

If You Must Evacuate

  • Evacuation plans are specific to each building. If you are a tenant in the building, coordinate evacuation plans with your building manager.
    • All employees should have a Go Bag ― a collection of items you may need in an evacuation. A Go Bag should be packed in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack. Learn what items to include in a Go Bag
  • Post maps of your building's escape routes in your business. Identify and label entry/exit points on the maps and throughout the building. Plan two different ways out of the building.
  • Pick two places to meet: one near your business, and one outside of the immediate area. Make sure employees know where the meeting places are, and practice by having evacuation drills.

If You Have to Stay

  • If it is not safe to evacuate, you may be asked by emergency officials to stay where you are, or "shelter in place." This may be as simple as remaining in your office or store while officials clear hazards from the area. Learn more about how to make a shelter-in-place plan
  • Ahead of an emergency, make a supply kit that includes items you and your employees may need, including water, food, radio, flashlights, batteries, etc. Keep these items in an easy-to-access location. Learn what items to include in an emergency supply kit

New York City provides a number of emergency support services for residents and businesses. These services are spread throughout the five boroughs, and can be located on the NYCity Map.

More Resources

Ready New York for Business

Get practical and actionable advice for your organization so you can protect your employees, and learn how to stay in business during and after an emergency.

Brochure: English, Spanish
Toolkit (fillable PDF): English, Spanish
Toolkit (print version): EnglishSpanish

Please check back for additional updates and language availability.

This brochure is also available in an audio format.

Tabletop Exercise Toolkit

This comprehensive toolkit provides all of the information you need to plan, facilitate, and evaluate a tabletop exercise for your organization.