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By Terry Pollard, Regional Executive Director

As head of the Red Cross, Northwest Region, I’m swamped with meetings, deadlines and endless emails every day. But it’s also my job to think about disasters and emergencies every day so I know how quickly something can get in the way of business as usual.

I frequently wonder – and worry – what would happen to many of the organizations and small businesses in our area if disaster struck in the middle of a work day.

Because we conduct so many trainings at our chapters, I know we have citizens trained in first aid. We also provide guidance to the community on wildfires, earthquakes, home fires and other disasters. But how many people really know what to do in an emergency?

That’s why I’m so excited about the re-tooled Red Cross Ready Rating program. It’s a program that allows companies to assess their preparedness for all types of emergency and then tells them how to fill in the gaps and improve. Small businesses, houses of worship and other non-profits love it because it makes getting prepared simple, it’s free (thanks to our generous sponsors), and it works. It’s also entirely online so members can work on it when it suits them.

Updates include the choice of using one of two preparedness assessments of either 25 or 60 questions, which allows organizations to select a depth of measurement appropriate for their size and level of previous preparedness efforts. Once a baseline is established, a new Next Steps Report points to specific “actionable” tools, including videos from the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, in the Ready Rating Resource Center to help members improve their readiness planning.

In a survey last year, nearly 90% of Ready Rating members called it a good to excellent program and we wholeheartedly agree with the 90% who said that it raises awareness on how to prepare. Lots of other folks (about a third surveyed), also liked how it helped them address such critical issues as securing (and using) business files during an emergency, making an evacuation plan and setting up a system to alert our employees when there is an emergency.

So make this one file that not only do you keep, but use to keep things going in case of an emergency. Join the Ready Rating program today.

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