Business Preparedness

The private sector is a vital part of the emergency management community. We see the state's vast network of business, industry, academia, trade associations and other non-governmental organizations as equal — and equally responsible — partners in every phase from preparedness to response and recovery to mitigation.

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Private Sector Information

Preparedness Tips

Can your business bounce back from the impact of an earthquake, flood or severe weather storm? Does your business continuity plan include redundancy strategies to ensure your business can continue operation in the case of a power outage or phone interruption?

An estimated 40 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. Building a continuity plan and taking proactive steps toward preparedness will reduce this risk, protect stakeholder's interests and ensure continuation of services.

Planning efforts should utilize an “all hazards approach” seeking to develop a process that remains relevant to many different threats or hazards. The probability that a specific hazard will impact your business is hard to determine. That’s why it’s important to consider many different threats and hazards and the likelihood of occurrence.

This informative image depicts the steps to comprehensive business preparedness.  The image is a linear depiction of the steps a business might take to reach a state of resilience.  Step 1 is depicted by a green box that is entitled Hazard Identification and includes a list of some of the hazards a business might encounter, such as fires, utility outages, supply chain failures, cyber-attacks, terrorism, hazardous materials spills, and other hazards a business may face.  Step 1 is followed by a depiction of an arrow pointing right to the Step 2 box.  The arrow is entitled Probability & Magnitude of Hazard.  Step 2 is depicted by a purple box that is entitled Vulnerability Assessment and displays the assets a business has that might be at risk from the hazards identified in Step 1.  These assets include people, property including the buildings a business uses, critical infrastructure, the supply chain, a business’s reputation, contractual obligations, and business operations.  The Step 2 box is followed by an arrow pointing right to the Step 3 box.  The arrow is entitled Vulnerability of Assets to Hazards.  The purpose of the arrow is to take the Step 2 assets that were identified and determine how vulnerable each asset is to the hazard identified in Step 1.  Step 3 is depicted by an orange box that is entitled Impact Analysis and lists out the types of impacts the hazards (from Step 1) might have on the assets (from Step 2) including casualties, property damage, loss of customers, financial loss, environmental contamination, loss of confidence in the business, fines or penalties, lawsuits, and loss of business continuity.  Step 3 is followed by an arrow pointing right to the Step 4 box.  The arrow is entitled Prioritization of Threats and involves evaluating the results from step 1, 2, and 3 and placing them in a priority order based on the strategic objectives of the company, priorities in a response, and other business objectives.  This prioritization allows a business to identify which hazards, vulnerabilities, or impacts to address first.  Step 4 is depicted by a blue box entitled Readiness Preparation and lists out the steps a business can take to increase their resilience to the hazards, vulnerabilities, and impacts identified in the prior steps.  These resilience processes include a leadership commitment to resilience, the development of policy and governance that fosters safety and resilience in the business, insurance coverage, performing cybersecurity risk assessments, communications, and business continuity planning, planning for supply chain issues, and building redundancy in the supply chain, training and exercises and risk management activities.  Step 4 is followed by an arrow entitled Continuous Process Improvement which demonstrates the necessity to continuously perform assessments and reassessments of the hazards, vulnerabilities, and impacts and continuously improve upon your business resilience.

Steps to comprehensive business planning and preparedness:

  1. Determine which hazards threaten your business. More detailed information on natural hazards our residents face is on our Threats & Hazards page.
  2. Conduct a Risk & Vulnerability Assessment
  3. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis
  4. Create a Business Continuity Plan
  5. Review insurance coverage on an annual basis
  6. Take steps to protect vital records
  7. Develop and test Emergency Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place plans

Want to go even further? Take the following steps to prepare your business and your community:

Business Preparedness Resources

There is an overwhelming amount of preparedness and planning resources available to businesses online. While some resources may be better suited to different businesses, it is more important for your organization identify and process and plan that works for you than it is important that you chose “the right planning tool.”  Below are a few free sites that may help your organization in your preparation and planning efforts:

Business Recovery


Resumption of "business as normal," or recovery, includes activities taken after an event to return vital economic systems to minimum standards (in the short-term) and all economic systems to normal or improved levels (in the long-term). These activities can include damage assessment, data recovery, debris removal, crisis counseling, public information, reconstruction or temporary housing.

Our Business Recovery Guide contains helpful information to ensure businesses reopen their doors following a disaster.

FEMA Disaster Assistance

During every federally declared disaster FEMA will stand up the website to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners.

U.S. Small Business Administration Loans

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) makes its low-interest loan programs available to qualifying businesses and private non-profit organizations that have suffered disaster damages. This occurs automatically following a Presidentially Declared Disaster (PDD), but may also be available absent at PDD. Businesses of any size may request an application for a low-interest loan by telephone immediately after the declaration. Small Business Administration loan officers will be available at all Disaster Field Offices and Disaster Recovery Centers to provide one-on-one assistance. For assistance pursuing a SBA loan, visit the Emergency Management Division’s Individual and Small Business Assistance website.

Tax Relief in Disasters

Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the president declares their location to be a major disaster area. Depending on the circumstances, the federal and state tax authorities may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a presidentially declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return. Visit the IRS Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief website for more federal tax information and the Washington Department of Revenue website for state tax information.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Assistance

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency emergency loans may be available to farmers who were operating a farm at the time of a disaster. Loans are limited to the amount necessary to compensate for actual losses to essential property or to production capacity. For more information, visit the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Farm or ranch owners and self-employed persons may qualify for disaster unemployment if they are out of work because of a disaster and are not covered by regular unemployment insurance. This program is administered by the State Department of Employment Security through the U.S. Department of Labor. Millions of dollars in Disaster Unemployment Assistance has been disbursed to Washington residents in recent years.

Business Re-entry Registration

In order to facilitate easy identification of business partners with a need for access to their facilities and the communities they serve, Washington state has developed a standard Business Re-Entry Registration system. This system allows businesses to register with the state and shares their information with local jurisdictions during an emergency. Learn more about Business Re-entry Registration here.

Online Training for Private Sector Organizations

The suggested FREE courses below may be found on the FEMA Emergency Management Institute’s website.

Emergency Management

Continuity Planning

Public-Private Partnerships

Critical Infrastructure

Links to Partner Organizations

Federal Government

State Agency Partners

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Emergency Management Information