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Business Emergency Response Plan Template

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Every business should develop and implelement an emergency plan for protecting employees, visitors, contractors, and anyone else on site. An emergency response plan is a written document that enables business to plan for incident response and is included in part of a business continuity program. It should be drafted with known resources available, and include a process for assessing damage, protecting property, and minimizing damage and business disruptions.

More information on emergency response plans can be found at

Emergency Response Plan

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8 steps to create a business emergency plan

Help protect your small business and its employees against unforeseen crises by creating a well-organized emergency plan. Presented by  Chase for Business .

small business emergency response plan

You can’t predict the future or fully prevent disasters from impacting your business.

You can, however, take steps to prepare your small business for unforeseen and unfortunate turns in the market. With a bit of careful planning and a well-thought-out business emergency plan, you’ll be able to minimize negative impact and help ensure your business stays operational.

1. Anticipate your predominant risks

The first step in business continuity and emergency planning is to identify potential risks. Disaster can be man-made (a cybersecurity attack ) or natural (a hurricane or earthquake). The inherent risks you face are largely dependent on where your business is located or what kind of business you operate.

Conceptualize disaster scenarios for your location and market — then begin working backwards toward effective safeguards.

2. Identify your company's top priorities

The safety of your employees, customers, suppliers and neighbors should be the first priority for your business. You should have clear plans for evacuation and sheltering in place, as well as longer-term plans for how to support your community.

Identifying the materials that take top priority for your business also helps focus the scope of your emergency plan. The highest priority may be physical property, cash or data. In any case, considering the location and vulnerability of each business asset will help inform your emergency plan.

3. Have a secure backup solution

A business emergency plan should include storing and backing up all essential data at a secure, off-site location. Data breaches and other cybersecurity attacks can be incredibly costly to small businesses.

Securely storing data can minimize downtime during a disaster and help you remain operational for your employees and the public. If your business keeps any physical documents, it’s a good idea to secure them in a tamper-proof, fire-proof safe as well as back them up with digital copies.

4. Develop your plan

Different businesses will have vastly different emergency plans.

Whatever your specific environment, market and emergency planning entails, be thorough. No detail is worth breezing over. Consider how you will protect your employees in case of an earthquake, or your physical business assets if there’s a fire or customers if your email database is compromised. Also, include when and how you plan on addressing the public.

FEMA’s Ready Business program provides a number of natural disaster toolkits to help ensure nothing crucial is overlooked.

5. Establish a chain of command

Similar to any other workplace safety policy , business emergency plans are useless if none of your business’s stakeholders know about it.

An emergency communication strategy should be a core component of your plan. Identify staff members who can effectively lead in the face of pressure and uncertainty. Specify who is in charge, who’s next in command and who needs to be contacted in the event of an emergency. Be sure to update emergency contact information for all staff on an annual basis.

6. Mitigate the potential damage

Help mitigate the impact of a disaster on your business by keeping all your systems up to date — from the fire extinguishers to the software.

Aside from testing your various systems for weak points, ensure your business has ample insurance for the disasters that (statistically speaking) pose the greatest threat to your work environment.

7. Keep your small business emergency plan up to date

Best practice is to keep your emergency plan up to date and test its effectiveness frequently.

Make sure things like emergency contact information and your evacuation plan are current and ensure that your disaster kit is kept stocked and is accessible. Once a year, designate employees to go through a disaster simulation to make sure each process works as intended.

8. Know what emergency resources are available

It’s a good idea to become familiar with available disaster assistance resources in the event that an emergency does happen. Speak with your business banker to determine if your finances are in order. The Small Business Association (SBA) has several resources for disaster aid , including disaster unemployment assistance and the qualifications for special tax provisions and emergency loans.

Foresight and preparation can go a long way in minimizing the impact of disasters.

In addition to a well-informed insurance agent, speak with a business banker to establish you’re financing is in order in case disaster strikes.

For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone, and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions, and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender. ©2023 JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Develop an emergency management plan

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Why you need an emergency management plan

  • Download our emergency management and recovery plan template

Develop your emergency management plan

In Australia, natural disasters such as floods, fire and even earthquakes can strike without warning. During an emergency, your main aim is to ensure your business continues operating. By carefully researching and planning before an emergency happens, you’ll be ready to act quickly and effectively.

Our emergency management plan template includes 3 plans to help you before, during and after an emergency:

  • The continuity plan – helps you prepare your business for an emergency by identifying risks to critical areas and how to best protect them.
  • The emergency action plan – helps you and your staff know what to do during an emergency situation.
  • The recovery plan – guides your business’s recovery after an emergency.

Download our emergency management plan template

Our template guides you through the process of creating a solid, well-structured emergency management plan that's tailored to your business.

Emergency management and recovery plan template

Our template steps you through the process of creating your plan with links to extra information if you need it.

You may want to check out our tips below before you start.

1. Understand the plan sections

Prepare your continuity plan.

To prepare your business for an emergency, identify critical areas of your business and ways to protect them. Consider the following important areas of your business.

Products or services

List your most important or most profitable products or services. Describe current arrangements to provide each one and what you’d do if these arrangements failed – your back up options for an emergency.

Key customers

List important customers and how you’d contact them in an emergency to tell them what has happened.

Record the insurance policies you currently hold to cover your business risks.

Visit Insurance for more information.

Property and infrastructure

Record how you make your property infrastructure less vulnerable to damage. Is your property secured with alarms, security personnel or video surveillance from unlawful entry? Do you have fire retardant or flood resistant building materials? Are leaf litter, grass and gutters maintained regularly to minimise fire risk?

Business continuity strategies

Identify temporary office accommodation you could quickly access in an emergency situation. Record other strategies you’ll consider to help maintain business as usual. For example, a virtual office service, an e-commerce website or e-marketplace. Visit Buying and selling online for more information.

Staff training

List your staff, their relevant skills and strengths, and any cross-training requirements that would help you to continue business in an emergency.

Information backup

Record how you protect your business information such as customer records, financial records and contact lists. Explain your back up procedures.

Prepare your emergency action plan

You should include the following in the emergency action plan.

Emergency contacts

List your local emergency services numbers and any additional contacts you'll need to phone in an emergency. These should include the local state emergency, police, fire and ambulance services.

Emergency procedures

Briefly outline your emergency evacuation procedures. It may be useful to attach a copy of your detailed emergency procedures and floor plan with the location of emergency exits, emergency kit and safety equipment clearly marked.

Provide a schedule for emergency evacuation drills.

Emergency kit

Record where your emergency kit is located or stored. Make sure:

  • your staff know where it is
  • it's clearly visible and labelled.

List the contents of your emergency kit and the date each item was last checked.

Emergency team roles and responsibilities

Communication is essential when making emergency planning procedures. Consider allocating a person/people to be responsible for any emergency situation. Set clear roles and responsibilities and provide appropriate training.

Prepare your recovery plan

Complete this section after an emergency happens. You should include the following in the recovery section of an emergency management plan.

Business impact assessment

Assess the damage to your business. List the main damage, its impact on your business, and what you’re going to do about it. Assign responsibility for any tasks you've identified.

Recovery contacts

List all of the organisations or people that will be essential to the recovery of your business.

Insurance claims

List any insurance policies you have claimed for and record discussions you have with insurers about your claims.

Market assessment

Based on your assessment of the damage to your business and/or surrounding area, list any areas of your market that have changed.

Marketing strategy

Detail your marketing strategy after the emergency. If your business is reopening, how will you get the message out? What channels will you use to target customers? Make sure you consider any changes in the market.

For example, you might consider a targeted marketing effort (such as a social media campaign) to let people know your business is reopening.

2. Prepare your supporting documentation

After you‘ve completed your continuity, action and recovery plans, list and attach copies of supporting documentation, such as:

  • detailed emergency procedures
  • evacuation maps
  • insurance information.

3. Review your emergency management plan

Regularly review your emergency management and recovery plan. It's also important to update your plan each time your staff change, or if you move to a new business location.

Practice your emergency action plan with your staff. You may find there are things missing or steps you need to change. This is your opportunity to make sure your emergency procedures are as efficient as possible.

If you’re in an emergency situation, check our page on what to do in an emergency.

Learn more about preparing your business for an emergency..

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Start » strategy, how to write an emergency preparedness plan.

Every business owner should prepare for the next big emergency. Learn how to write an emergency preparedness plan using these seven steps.

 Emergency response team stands in a circle to discuss a plan.

A new emergency can strike at any moment, so your business needs to be as prepared as possible. The best way to do this is to create an emergency preparedness plan.

[Read more: How to Plan for Financial Uncertainty as a Business ]

Assess the risks that threaten your business

To get started, you need to assess the biggest threats to your business and its long-term recovery. Different types of disasters or emergency events can be worse than others.

Analyze the potential fallout from the following situations:

  • An environmental emergency, like a flood.
  • A global event, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A physical problem, like a break-in.
  • A digital emergency, like a cybersecurity breach.

Complete a hazard vulnerability assessment

If your business operates out of a physical location, you should complete a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA). An HVA outlines any risk affecting the facility and day-to-day business operations. You’ll then rate these risks based on the level of probability and severity.

From there, you can conduct a business impact analysis. This assessment predicts the level of business disruption and can help you create a recovery strategy.

Gather employee emergency contact information

It’s important to have emergency contact information for all of your employees before disaster strikes. Gather and file this information in a single location where you can quickly access it.

That way, if an emergency happens, you’ll know how and where to reach your employees. You can inform them about the crisis and what you’re doing to manage the situation.

There is a type of insurance to cover nearly every risk your business might face, and the right insurance can protect your business from financial ruin.

Establish evacuation procedures

If you manage a brick-and-mortar business, like a restaurant or store, you need to outline your company’s evacuation procedures . Imagine various emergency scenarios and how your employees and customers can exit the building safely.

You should explain these procedures to your employees, and it’s a good idea to post them where customers can see them. If necessary, run a few drills with your employees so they know where to go and what to do.

Inspect nearby fire alarms, emergency lighting, escape ladders and any other emergency equipment.

Prepare emergency kits

You should also prepare at least one emergency kit and have it available for employees and customers. This emergency kit list is not exhaustive, but is a good start for medical and survival items you can include:

  • Gauze and bandages.
  • Painkillers.
  • A flashlight.
  • A warm blanket.

This emergency kit could be crucial if you or your employees must wait for emergency services to reach you during a disaster.

Backup important data and files

It’s essential to backup all business data and files. You should store all company data on a secure hard drive offsite. In addition, you can store data in the cloud, which when taking proper cybersecurity measures, can help protect your business against cybersecurity threats.

If you have physical files, make two copies. Store one copy at work and another copy at home. That way, if one location or the other is destroyed, you’ll still have the files you need to get your business back up and running.

[Read more: Guide to Data Management, Protection and Storage ]

Collect and store insurance information

Finally, make sure you have the correct insurance for your business. There is a type of insurance to cover nearly every risk your business might face, and the right insurance can protect your business from financial ruin.

For instance, if you own a restaurant, you’ll likely want to purchase commercial property insurance. If you’re an accountant or lawyer, you might need professional liability insurance. A licensed insurance agent can advise you on the best options for your business.

Make sure you store your insurance information in a place that is easy to access. That way, if an emergency strikes, you won’t be scrambling to locate this information.

[Read more: Ransomware: What Small Businesses Need to Know ]

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