Schools and businesses can face a number of emergencies that threaten to disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, floods and wildfires to outbreaks of illness like seasonal or H1N1 flu.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, between 15-40 percent of businesses fail after a disaster. The Ready Rating program can help businesses from becoming part of that statistic.
The Red Cross Ready Rating program offers free memberships to businesses, organizations and schools. Members can use the program's online checklist to measure their current preparedness efforts and receive customized feedback about how to improve their preparedness level.
"This program was created to give businesses, organizations and schools an easy starting point so they can feel more confident about the safety of employees and students," American Red Cross Wabash Valley Chapter Executive Director Carol Stevens said. "Ready Rating is good for businesses and schools, good for employees and students and good for our communities."
The nationwide launch began in an eight-city pilot program in 2009 with a $2.1 million grant from Anheuser Busch.
Now, Sam's Club is lending support to the program by joining as a national sponsor of Ready Rating and has provided $500,000 to help bring the program to additional cities.
Ready Rating also encourages businesses and schools to promote personal preparedness efforts among employees, students and families.
A recent Red Cross survey showed 51 percent of Americans have experienced at least one emergency situation where they lost utilities for at least three days, had to evacuate, could not return home or communicate with family members or had to provide first aid to others.
Although 89 percent of those surveyed believe it is important to be prepared for emergencies, far fewer are actually taking the step necessary to prepare.
More information about the program may be accessed at www.ReadyRating.org.