Why Get Ready At Work?

The best protection for employees and businesses is to be prepared. Every dollar spent preparing saves seven dollars spent on business recovery. Many unprepared businesses never reopen after a major disaster. Prepare to stay in business!


Use the following checklists to help you get ready:

Business Vital Records


The best protection for employees and businesses is to be prepared. Every dollar spent in preparing saves seven dollars spent on business recovery afterward. Many unprepared businesses never reopen after a major disaster. Prepare to stay in business!

Checklist for Vital Emergency Communication
  • Designate local staff members who will communicate to employees about emergency preparedness and strategy on a regular basis.
  • Designate an out-of-state contact number that all employees will call to check in or leave an
    I'm OK message after an emergency.
  • Create an emergency contact phone card and distribute it to all employees to carry at all times. The card should be designed to clip behind an employee ID card.
  • If your company has a website, create an emergency weblog page to communicate updates on the status of employees' well-being, questions and answers, and emergency business decisions.
  • Designate a chain of command of four or five people who can make emergency decisions. If the person at the top of the chain is not able to communicate or make emergency decisions, the next person in the chain takes on that responsibility.
Checklist for Vital Document Backup

Preserving vital documents is essential to the quick restoration of business. Install firewalls and security software to protect your digital information from hackers and viruses. Use a storage service or out-of-state office to store backup copies of documents such as:

  • Financial and payroll database or books
  • Insurance information
  • Contracts, reports, and proposals
  • Customer and supplier databases
  • Formulas and trade secrets
  • Employee database and personnel files
  • Architectural and engineering plans and drawings
  • Service and product lists with specifications
  • All computer systems and data
More Resources

From Ready.gov: Ready Business
From U.S. Small Business Administration: Disaster Assistance
From FEMA: The National Flood Insurance Program

Business Plan


Your emergency response plan at work is the blueprint for the safety of your employees and business.

Checklist for an Emergency Business Plan
  • Create a chain of command of emergency decision makers and print outspecific responsibilities.
  • Back up and protect all vital documents and digital assets.
  • Analyze and make a list of hazards and impacts that different disasters could have on your business.
  • Create a vital communication plan and distribute an emergency contact phone card.
  • Make a copy of your emergency plan available to all employees.
  • Establish an emergency planning and crisis management team that will keep your plan up-to-date and employees informed and trained.
  • Create a shelter-in-place strategy, in case you must seek shelter in your office. Designate emergency shelter supplies the business will provide, such as water and food, and suggested supplies employees should keep in individual to-go bags, such as flashlights, gloves, energy bars, vital personal documents, personal hygiene items, and prescription medicines.
  • Create a list of neighboring resources and businesses that will participate in your emergency plan.
  • Create a detailed evacuation plan in collaboration with neighboring businesses and building owners to avoid confusion or gridlock.
  • Schedule regular evacuation and fire drills every six months for all employees.
  • Create a prioritized list of critical operations, staff, and procedures for primary recovery action.
  • Create a list of suppliers and contractors inside and outside your local area that are critical to your business recovery.
  • Review your emergency plan and update it annually.
  • Make sure management are involved fully and set an example for employee cooperation and participation.
More Resources

Small Business Planner
Institute for Business & Home Safety
Ready Business

Business Supply Kit


Your experience after an emergency can range from inconvenient to disastrous. Being prepared with the right supplies can make all the difference.

Supply Kit Checklist
Office Water

Store a one-week supply of water. Water is more essential to survival than any other supply. Replace supply every six months to one year.

  • Store one gallon per person per day for drinking and cleaning (extra for sanitation)
  • Store water tightly in clean plastic containers; avoid glass containers or gallon water jugs which are likely to break
Office Food

Store a one-week supply of non-perishable food that doesn't need refrigeration, cooking, or water. Replace according to dates on packaging.

  • Emergency food bars or other packaged foods
  • Staples such as sugar, honey, tea, coffee, canned milk
Office Supplies

These are essential supplies to have ready for use after an emergency. Put contents in a large plastic garbage can with wheels or other container that you can easily move.

  • Battery/solar-powered/hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Battery lanterns or flashlights, extra batteries
  • First aid kit and instruction guide
  • Moist towelettes, sturdy garbage bags, twist ties, and plastic bucket for emergency toilet
  • Empty garbage can to store waste
  • Extra warm blankets or sleeping bags for each person in case of cold temperatures
  • Sturdy gloves for cleaning up broken glass or debris
  • Scissors, duct tape, and plastic sheets/bags to cover broken windows or create shelter
  • Bungee cords, utility knife, crowbar, and other tools to help repair damage or create shelter
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off gas, water, electricity
Employee To-Go Bags (or backpacks)

These are supplies employees can use at work or to take along in case of an evacuation. Make extra to-go bags to keep in your car and at home.

  • Local street maps and shelter information
  • Copies of vital documents in a waterproof bag or wallet ( ID, passport, emergency contact list, insurance/bank information, and family photos for identification purposes).
  • One-month supply of prescription medicines, refilled before expiration date
  • List of allergies/medicine/dosages
  • Emergency cash and change
  • Pocket flashlight and batteries
  • Pocketknife, tape, permanent marker, notepad
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
  • Sturdy shoes, warm coat, compact rain poncho, and a hat with a brim/visor for warmth and sun/rain protection
  • Toothbrush, small container of sun block lotion, tampons, lip balm, mints
More Resources

From Ready.gov: Emergency Supplies
From FEMA: Emergency Supply Kit for Businesses



Employees are the most valuable asset that a business has, especially in an emergency. Involve your staff in emergency planning and awareness. Stay involved with their safety needs and suggestions. Practice!

Checklist for Employers and Employees
  • Involve your staff in emergency planning and awareness with newsletters and staff meetings.
  • Encourage all employees to prepare and keep a personal to-go bag at work.
  • Encourage or provide emergency training for staff.
  • Practice your plan and evacuation drills every six months. Set up a system of trained evacuation leaders for designated areas or levels of your office. Each leader will escort an evacuation group out of the building to a designated spot and account for employees in each designated area.
  • Inform your employees about emergency communication and decisions with coworkers, managers, vendors, and customers.
  • Provide extra time for employees to care for family and personal needs. Worries about family well-being and personal difficulties can consume workers who have experienced a disaster.
  • Reassure employees and allow for breaks where coworkers can talk openly about their fears and hopes.
  • Reestablish routines, when possible. Workplace routines facilitate recovery by providing an opportunity to be active and to restore social contact.
  • Offer professional counselors to help coworkers address their fears and anxieties.
  • Once the need to listen for emergency instructions has passed, limit television, radio, and other external stresses.
  • Make sure you and other leaders take care of your own well-being. Your personal health and recovery is vital your employees.
  • Encourage all employees to have a personal to-go bag.
Checklist for Employees with Special Needs
  • Plan two evacuation routes because hallways or staircases may blocked in a disaster.
  • Discuss evacuation arrangements and medical needs with your manager.
  • Create a network of caregivers, coworkers, and managers to aid you in an emergency.
  • Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.
  • If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
  • Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, prescriptions, food for service animals, and any other items you might need.
  • Keep one week's supply of prescription medications at work or in a to-go bag.
  • Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability.
  • Know the location and availability of more than one facility if you depend on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
More Resources

From Ready.gov: Talk to Your People
From FEMA: Individuals with Special Needs

Commute Safety


Emergencies and disasters can happen while you are commuting by car, truck, motorcycle, bike, or public transportation. Protect yourself by being informed and prepared, and using common sense if there is an emergency during your commute.

Car/Truck Checklist
  • Carry an emergency phone contact card and your driver's license with you at all times.
  • In case of an earthquake, stop the car and remain in the car until the shaking has stopped. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, overpasses, and utility wires. When the shaking has stopped, proceed cautiously, avoiding bridges and other elevated structures that might have been damaged.
  • In case of serious flooding, never attempt to drive through flooded water on a road. Get out of the car and wade through floodwaters to higher ground only if the water is not flowing rapidly and only in water no higher than the knees.
  • In case of a storm or blizzard and your car becomes immobilized, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Do not attempt to walk from the car unless you can see a definite safe haven at a reasonable distance. Leave the dome light on at night to signal rescuers, and exercise occasionally by clapping hands or moving around.
  • Store an auto emergency kit containing blankets, booster cables and tools, bottled water, dried fruits and nuts, first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, traction mats or chains, a shovel, and a personal to-go bag for each commuter.
Bicycle Checklist
Public Transportation Checklist
  • Carry an emergency phone contact card and ID at all times.
  • Keep a minimal to-go bag with you on your commute.
  • On BART or Caltrain: If the train stops, follow the operator's instructions quickly and calmly. In an extreme emergency when you must evacuate the train without the operator's assistance, follow posted emergency procedures.
  • On a station platform: Familiarize yourself with all the exits at the stations that you can use in case you have to take a different exit. Listen for announcements and follow instructions quickly and calmly.
  • On a bus: Follow the bus operator's instructions. Emergency exit procedures are listed on windows, ceiling escape hatches, and on doors.
More Resources

From FEMA: Survive the Commute When Disaster Strikes
From the Red Cross: Commuter Safety
From 511.org: Commuting by Bike
From the Association of Bay Area Governments: Checklist for Businesses

Physical Assets


Protect your office and other physical assets such as inventory and equipment by being prepared.

Assets Checklist
  • Identify and comply with all local, state and federal codes and other safety regulations that apply to your business.
  • Analyze the impact of any stored hazardous materials and make sure you have secondary containment to prevent spills or leaks.
  • Make sure your insurance are adequate and up to date.
  • Make sure your inventory list is current and includes recent purchases.
  • Post evacuation maps and insist that emergency exits remain unblocked at all times.
  • Install fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, check regularly according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Prepare for utility disruption such as power outages. Find out if an emergency generator is appropriate for your building.
  • Make sure that all equipment is secured and protected.
  • Assess air system or heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system regularly for indoor air quality
  • Protect your digital data with off-site storage, firewalls, and security software.
More Resources

From Ready.gov: Protect Your Investment
From FEMA: Protect Your Property

Business Recovery

Short-Term Recovery Checklist
  • Assess ongoing medical needs, safety, and well-being of staff.
  • Provide emergency communication and chain of command.
  • Focus on restoring vital utilities and life support systems (e.g., power, water, sanitation, communications).
  • Assess and document damage.
  • Provide for debris removal.
  • Assess evacuation impacts, if applicable.
  • Assess transportation infrastructure.
  • Restart critical business processes.
Long-Term Recovery Checklist
  • Determine staff needs and return-to-work plans.
  • Review disaster loans.
  • Determine new or alternative site plans.
  • Plan to increase business processes from critical to regular productivity.
More Resources

From Ready.gov: Continuity of Operations Planning
From FEMA: Standard Checklist Criteria fo Business Recovery
From SBA.gov: Disaster Recovery Loans