The American Red Cross today announced updates to its Ready Rating program to help businesses, schools and organizations of all types prepare for disasters and emergencies. The launch of the retooled Ready Rating program coincides with National Preparedness Month and will debut during a September 10 2:00 p.m. (ET) webinar by SCORE Association, a small business mentoring and advice service supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
More than 12,000 organizations have joined the Ready Rating program since its inception. It is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps businesses, schools and organizations measure how ready they are to deal with emergencies and gives customized feedback on how to improve preparedness efforts.
Organizations may face a number of emergencies that could disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as tornados and floods to man-made events. The updated Ready Rating program, which the Red Cross offers at no cost thanks to its sponsors, encourages members to recognize five essential components of preparedness:
1. Commit to preparing.
2. Understand threats to your place of work.
3. Ensure you have the right equipment and your facility is ready.
4. Practice your plan.
5. Help your community get prepared
“Emergencies can strike without warning and unfortunately, we have many real-life examples from just the past few weeks that remind us of the importance of being prepared – whether it is fire in the Pacific Northwest or an impending hurricane,” said Tom Heneghan, senior product manager for the Ready Rating program at the Red Cross. “Studies show that between 15 percent to 40 percent of businesses fail following a natural or man-made disaster, so Ready Rating can help save lives as well as livelihoods when disaster strikes.”
Ready Rating begins with a choice of two different self-assessments to help groups determine if they are prepared for a disaster. By choosing one of two assessments of either 25 or 60 questions, the organization can select what depth of measurement is appropriate for its size and indicate the steps it has already (or not) taken to get prepared. Topics include hazard vulnerability, continuity of operations and employee readiness.
Once a baseline assessment is established, the program focuses on helping them be better prepared, including steps they can take to improve their readiness for disasters and other emergencies. A new Next Steps Report points to specific “actionable” tools in the Ready Rating Resource Center. Some of these tools include video topics introduced by Red Cross staff and members of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, a 50-member group that guides the science behind Red Cross programs.
Ready Rating is designed for those in the beginning stages of planning for emergencies as well as those who want to ensure their current emergency plans will meet their organizational needs.
“Having prepared, trained responders is just one part of making sure a community is ready to handle an emergency,” Heneghan said. “Some disasters are so large that the government agencies and groups like the Red Cross can’t do it all, and all organizations, including businesses, schools, houses of worship and non-profits must be ready to take care of themselves and their neighbors.”
More information about this preparedness program can be found at www.ReadyRating.org.