Marin Business Emergency Readiness Program Help


Screen numbers correspond to the section letter/number in the MBER Emergency Plan Template.

A. Introduction and Commitment

A1. Business Covered

If your business is a single location business, indicate its name and address. If your business extends beyond one location, indicate included locations (e.g., branches). If only part of the business, for example a branch location of a large chain or franchise business, indicate which portions of the operations are included in this plan. If multiple businesses in the same location share the plan, list the name and location of both.

A2. Normal Mission Statement

These are the goods and services you provide your customers on a regular basis; for example, selling groceries to local residents or providing medical care and prescription medications for sick/injured pets. This does not need to be an officially approved “Mission Statement”, just a brief statement of what the business normally does. This sets the stage for the next two questions.

A3. Essential Business Functions

Functions or activities that must continue at all times, even during and after an emergency, such as payroll and ordering supplies. They typically reflect only a subset of a business’ normal operating functions, but would have the greatest impact if unable to be performed. Download a presentation of the key items that your business should prioritize when evaluating the impacts of a disaster and opportunities to mitigate them.

A4. Potential Effects of a Major Disaster

What potential effect would a disaster have on your ability to deliver goods and services? Would your mission change post-disaster while your community and your business recover? For example, if your veterinary practice cares for sick or injured pets, would you change to sheltering lost pets following a disaster? Would your inventory change post-disaster, for example, supplying more bottled water or flashlights? The idea is to think through how a disaster might change the nature of your business and how you can position it in advance to make that transition as smoothly as possible.

A5. Emergency Planning Responsibilities

Who are the staff members assigned to roles of Emergency Coordinators, both primary and alternate? These should be mid-level employees whom you expect to be with you for a while. These staff members have the responsibility of initial completion of the emergency plan, periodic updates and staff training and drills. Your business should also appoint a senior executive with overall responsibility for this program.

A6. M’BER Reference Sheet Posted

Get copies of the M’BER Reference Sheet from your local emergency jurisdiction. Post copies in your staff rooms and central offices so local emergency contact information and guidelines are available to employees and leadership staff. Indicate in the Plan Template where these are located so they can be periodically replaced.

A7. Current Emergency Plan Distributed

In order for your Emergency Plan to become effective, it needs to be published and distributed periodically to your staff and other people who may need to refer to it in case of a disaster. In this section list all of the people who should be on that distribution list. Don’t forget all your key employees, owners, your local emergency jurisdiction, your insurance companies, key customers, key suppliers. Since the Emergency Plan Template is a Word document, you might want to actually store the email addresses here so they can be cut-and-pasted into the transmission email when distribution occurs.

When the time comes to distribute the Emergency Plan, please follow these instructions precisely:

  1. First assign a new version number (ending with “.0”) and effective date for this Plan and enter these in: a) the Emergency Plan Template (In the Word Header for the Document, which will then be repeated automatically on all pages), b) on the M’BER Score Card (Excel cells C4, C5) and c) in paragraph A7 on the Emergency Plan Template. See Versions and Archiving for more details if necessary.
  2. Update the A7 requirement on the M’BER Score Card with the date of this distribution (enter the date in MMDDYYYY format in cell F14). Note that the points you earn are dependent on how frequently you distribute the plan, so do it periodically, preferably semi-annually.
  3. Email the Emergency Plan Template to everyone on the distribution list. You don’t need to include the M’BER Score Card…that is for your reference only.
  4. Archive copies of the email, the Emergency Plan Template, and the M’BER Score Card on your own business computer.

A8. Emergency Plan Submitted for Verification

Periodically you should submit your Emergency Plan to your local emergency jurisdiction, whether City, County or a special district, for review, feedback and verification. First contact your local jurisdiction (see list on the ReadyMarin.org website) to ensure the proper person to whom you should forward your plan. Then please follow these instructions precisely:

  1. First assign a new version number and effective date for the Plan and enter these in: a) the Emergency Plan Template (In the Word Header for the Document, which will then be repeated automatically on all pages), b) on the M’BER Score Card (cells C4, C5) and c) in paragraph A8 on the Emergency Plan Template. See Versions and Archiving for more details if necessary.
  2. Update the A8 requirement on the M’BER Score Card with the date of this submission (enter the date in MMDDYYYY format in cell F15). Note that the points you earn are dependent on how frequently you submit the plan for review, so do it periodically, preferably semi-annually.
  3. Email the Emergency Plan Template and the M’BER Score Card to your local jurisdiction coordinator.
  4. Archive copies of the Email, the Emergency Plan Template, and the M’BER Score Card on your own business computer.
    When you hear back from your local jurisdiction coordinator, you might update the status on the Emergency Plan Template in A8 and make suggested plans to your Plan. Some jurisdictions may be distributing Certificates of Achievement for new levels of readiness achieved.

B. Hazard Risk Assessment

B1. Hazard Vulnerability Assessment

This chart helps to identify the local hazards that you and your business are at risk for.
Select the appropriate numbers for Probability and Impact:

  • Probability: 1 is low, 2 is medium and 3 is high probability of the event occurring.
  • Likely Impact: 1 is minor, 2 is significant, 3 is critical and 4 is catastrophic in terms of potential damage.
  • Multiply the numbers in the Probability and the Impact columns to calculate Risk or exposure to loss. Type in the result in the risk column.
  • Add any other hazards unique to your location at the bottom of the table.

B2. Insurance Agents Consulted

List your major types of insurance, the agency who handles it, and the primary agent with his/her contact information. This will be critical information after a disaster. In addition, indicate how recently management contacted the agent to discuss insurance coverage and precautions for disasters which might impact the business. Ask about Business Interruption insurance.


B3. Recommended Hazard Mitigation Steps to Reduce Risks

FEMA defines hazard mitigation as “a sustained action that reduces the risk to people and property from natural and man-caused disasters, and that leads to the saving of lives, reduction in injuries, and the lessening of property damage.”

A discussion between the property owner and business owner regarding the safety of the facility’s structure and utility systems can lead to recognition of hazards that if corrected can save lives and lessen recovery time following a disaster.

Suggested measures to consider include the ones listed on the emergency template as well as the following:

  • Create a list of inventory and equipment and keep with your Emergency Plan
  • Bolt heavy shelves, cabinets, furniture to wall studs
  • Strap computers, office equipment to tables and desks
  • Secure pictures, wall hangings with safety hooks
  • Clear exits, pathways
  • Fasten breakables to walls, shelves with museum wax
  • Lower heavy objects to bottom shelves
  • Prepare sandbags and tarps ahead of time or know where these items can be quickly obtained, if flooding becomes imminent
  • Anchor large equipment properly
  • Anchor tall bookcases and file cabinets
  • Anchor and brace propane tanks and gas cylinders
  • Bolt sill plates to foundation
  • Brace Cripple Walls
  • Install Latches on Drawers and Cabinet Doors
  • Mount Framed Pictures and Mirrors Securely
  • Restrain Desktop Computers and Appliances
  • Use Flexible Connections on Gas and Water Lines

Refer to the M′BER Reference Sheet in Appendix A for additional ideas of mitigating steps you can take before a disaster hits.

C. Preparedness

Businesses that plan ahead can limit injuries and damage and can return more quickly to normal operation, so start by asking some basic questions:

  • How well prepared is my business now?
  • What emergency procedures do I have in place already?
  • What additional actions do I need to take to protect my facility and business from local threats?
  • What training do I need to offer to my staff so they and my customers will be better protected?

Many small businesses don’t know how to start their emergency planning; others state that lack of time resources and expertise are obstacles. Taking the emergency process one step at a time can help to make it more manageable.

C1. Equipment and Supplies

Take an inventory of the emergency supplies on-site and replace expired items. The most common emergency items are already listed on the Emergency Plan Template. Add to the template any other supplies on hand, their quantity and expiration dates.

Additional suggested emergency items may include:

  • All-hazards NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)
  • First Aid Kit including: scissors, tweezers, gauze pads 10 4X4 and tape, anti-bacterial wipes (5), first aid ointment, cold packs (2-3), gloves (5 pr. non-latex, don’t need to be sterile), space blankets (4), oral thermometer, 2 triangular bandages (to make slings), first aid instruction book (ex. Red Cross, American Heart Association), pain relief medication (Ibuprofen or Tylenol), Benadryl (for allergic reactions)
  • Refer also to the Red Cross website for more information
  • Flashlights (with extra batteries) and light sticks
  • Consider having an on-site generator if prolonged power outage will place your inventory at risk.
  • Essential tools and other supplies to help protect and clean up your site, including: waterproof plastic sheets, shut-off wrench for water and gas, whistle, work gloves, rope, pliers, hammer, zip-ties, shovel, dust masks, push broom, all-weather ponchos (4)
  • Camera (cell or disposable)
  • Manual credit card imprinter and sales slips (Imprints a visible image of raised credit card information onto multi-part carbon slips)
  • Cell phone (consider storing an extra charger at work)

Grab & Go Supplies

If you need to quickly leave your facility and evacuate all staff and customers, what would you take with you? Similar to the personal Grab & Go bag, every employee should have at home, or in their car, a bag containing the key items your staff emergency coordinator (or designated representative) should remove from the facility in case of an evacuation, assuming reentry might become impossible.

Make a comprehensive list of these specific items and insert the list in this table. Then collect copies of the current version of the items and store them together in an appropriate carrying bag. Indicate where the bag is stored in the facility.

Suggested items to consider for the Grab & Go Bag:

  • Copy of your Business Emergency Plan and staff/vendor contact list
  • Copy of insurance policies, indicating specific policies
  • Cash and extra set of keys to facility
  • Documentation for emergency line of credit
  • Copies of memo authorizing employees to enter premises in case of emergency
  • Backup copies of electronic files, on USB memory sticks or hard drives
  • Any special forms used by your business
  • Photos of business, inside and outside
  • Copy of deed or lease for facility
  • Bank information, including account numbers
  • Copies of any MOU’s (memos of understanding) with other agencies
  • Requirements and contacts for SBA (Small Business Administration) Disaster Loans
  • Copy of most recent stock inventory and balance sheet
  • Sole proprietorships, Corporations and Partnerships all need a copy of: Current P&L Statement, Schedule of Liability, all required licenses,
  • Sole proprietorships should also keep copies of past 3 years tax returns with Schedule C
  • Corporations and Partnerships should also keep: past 3 years tax returns, most recent personal tax return of principals (affiliates with >20% interest) and most recent tax return of any affiliated business entities.
  • Any other back-up copies of financial records or back-up computer files needed for the Accounting, Payroll or other mission-essential systems. This should also be stored on the Cloud of other off-site storage.

Shelter-in-place Supplies

  • Quantity needed will depend on number staff planned for.
  • One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation, if feasible
  • Non-perishable foods for 24 hours that do not require cooking or refrigeration
  • Battery-powered commercial radios and extra batteries.
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid, roll of plastic garbage bags and toilet paper (can create portable toilet). Moist towels for sanitation
  • Blankets and/or 10-12 space blankets
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Whistles to signal for help
  • N95 Dust or filter masks, which are readily available in hardware stores.
  • First Aid kits for each member of the First Aid team placed in common areas according to OSHA requirements (see list C1).
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can openers for food (if supplies include canned food)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for “sealing the room” to shelter-in-place

C2. Staff Training

Many employers have the false illusion that their staff will do well in an emergency. People will fall back on their training and if they haven’t had any, there can be chaos. Some will do well and some will not.

Staff Training includes preparing your staff for what they need to do in and following a disaster and is critical. This should be conducted at least annually and include:

  • Their individual roles and responsibilities
  • Potential local hazards; what they might experience.
  • How to communicate with you and fellow staff members
  • How to reach family members
  • Your emergency response procedures, including medical emergency, evacuation and shelter in place procedures
  • Location and proper use of emergency equipment.
  • Specialty training, as needed, such as first aid or fire extinguisher training

Your local fire department can be a resource for assisting with training and emergency drills.

C3. Staff Exercises and Drills

Once your staff’s training is complete, practicing what they have learned is equally important. Exercising new skills fosters familiarity and ‘muscle memory’, which will help in a chaotic emergency situation. Drills and exercises can also help to clarify emergency roles and reveal weaknesses and resource gaps in your plan.

Annual drills/exercises can be conducted with the assistance of your local fire department and or/CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members and focus on:

  • Evacuation procedures
  • Simulated medical emergency
  • Shelter-in-place procedures

Emergency exercises can be conducted as a “tabletop”, which is simply to review and discuss the emergency plan and roles at a staff meeting or as practice drills, during which staff members assume their roles and play-role an emergency, perhaps with volunteers or other staff members as “victims”.

C4. Employee Preparedness

Encourage staff members to keep the following emergency items in their work locker or the trunk of their car:

  • Extra set of clothing, including comfortable shoes
  • Essential medication and batteries for hearing aids
  • Extra set of glasses
  • Warm sweater
  • Small kit of hygiene products, including toothbrush/toothpaste, soap, small towel, hair brush and sanitary supplies
  • Water bottle and several snack bars


Consider encouraging and even financially supporting your staff members to participate in outside classes, such as:

  • First aid and CPR, which will greatly enhance their ability to respond to an emergency at your business site.
  • Hosting a Get Ready class, a 1 ½ hour home preparedness class, at your business will add to your staff’s ability to remain at work and keep your business open. If they are not prepared at home, they are more likely to need to leave the work site to check on family members.
  • Staff members who participate in the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training will be great resources to your business’ response efforts. They will bring skills learned in the 18 hour training that includes fire suppression, first aid, light search and rescue and emergency team organization.
  • You can find out about the Get Ready and CERT classes at www.readymarin.org.

D. Emergency Response

D1. Emergency Response Leadership Structure

Identify who will be involved in your emergency leadership structure, their responsibility during the emergency situation and to whom they report to during the emergency.

You will need a person or small group to lead the process. External resources for consultation are valuable as well, such as public safety or emergency management personnel, local disaster council staff, Chamber of Commerce or the Red Cross.

  • Consider a broad cross section of people from your organization, but focus on those with expertise vital to daily business functions. These will likely include people with technical skills as well as managers and executives.
  • Make sure your committee includes workers with known disabilities or others who may need extra assistance during an emergency (such as people with chronic or temporary medical conditions who may not consider themselves disabled).
  • Consider partnering with neighboring businesses to share resources.

D2. Communication Procedures

Indicate what groups of people (e.g., owners, employees, customers, suppliers) need to be warned/alerted about emergencies while they are happening, who will be responsible to contact them and how that communication will happen (e.g., phone call, email, text).

D3. Emergency Contact Information

Indicate the email addresses and phone numbers (both office, home and mobile) of all employees and other stakeholders with whom you might need to communicate following a disaster.

D4. Evacuation Plan


Drawing on information published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following procedures are suggested for dealing with an evacuation, whether from a fire or other on-site facility hazard:

  • All employees should be given training on how to report an emergency such as a fire.
  • When ordered to leave the building, everyone should do so immediately, not stopping to retrieve items such as laptops or pocketbooks.
  • A clear and distinctive evacuation signal will be used to notify every one of the need to leave the facility. This signal should be very different from the one used to signal a shelter-¬in¬-place order.
  • Evacuation routes (primary and secondary) should be clearly marked and floor plans showing the evacuation routes should be posted throughout the facility.
  • Everyone should be notified of the location of the assembly area. If weather conditions dictate using an alternative assembly point, this should be made clear.
  • Floor Wardens should be charged with directing people to exits and providing assistance if necessary. Floor Wardens and other designated individuals should be charged with the shutdown of critical operations, time permitting.
  • All exits should be clearly marked according to local safety codes. Exit routes should be checked monthly to insure that they are not blocked or inoperative.
  • Once at the assembly point, the Assembly Manager, or designee(s), will take attendance and report these finding to the first responders.
  • The Assembly Manager or designee(s) should report to the first responders any hazardous or dangerous materials stored onsite.
  • Once the critical emergency is over and if first responders declare the facility to be safe, designated staff calls “All Clear” and staff can re-enter the facility. The decision to resume business functions are decided at that time by the appropriate management staff.

D5. Shelter-in-Place Plan

Sheltering-in-place may be necessary if a threat from outside the facility places staff and customers at risk, such as severe weather, active shooter in the vicinity or hazardous material spill.

When choosing a shelter location, consider the following:

  • Choose a room with few, if any, glass windows. Interior rooms are often the best choice. If sheltering against severe weather, consider using a room below ground. If sheltering against criminal activity, choose a room that can be barricaded.
  • Pre-stock the shelter with a supply of water, food, and basic medical supplies (see list in C1). These supplies should be checked every six months for replenishment and to check expiration dates.
  • Consult with Management to determine if there are any special requirements that should be factored into your planning.
  • Decide how communication with public safety officials will be established in the event of a prolonged shelter-in-place.
  • If forced to shelter for a prolonged period, plan ahead for how sanitation issues will be addressed.

D6. Internal Medical Emergency Plan

Indicate your business’s specific plan to address internal medical emergencies. Some general guidelines include:

  • If an injury occurs or one or more individuals become ill, first assess the situation to determine the nature and extent of the situation.
  • If it is a minor incident, assist the victim while seeking professional medical assistance, if needed.
  • In the case of a life-threatening situation, stay calm and notify the on duty Manager/Emergency Coordinator and emergency services (911).
  • Do not take action if it places you in danger.
  • When asking for assistance, be prepared to give your exact location, nature of the incident/injury, your name, and the patient’s name(s).
  • If you have first aid training, administer it according to your training. For example, check breathing, stop bleeding if possible, while protecting yourself from body fluids, and solicit additional help from others in the immediate area.
  • After emergency medical services personnel arrive, collect your thoughts and prepare a report for management detailing what happened, when it happened, and other pertinent information.
  • If you feel distressed, notify your manager that you would like to seek counseling support.
  • Indicate also where the procedures have been posted for ready reference in case of a medical emergency.

D7. Procedures for Other Area-Specific Hazards

List any hazards identified as “other” in the Hazard Vulnerability Assessment table in section B1 and describe any procedures developed for on-site individuals to address these hazards should they materialize.

D8. Special Assistance Needs

It is important to be able to assist any staff members and customers that may have special needs.

Who might have difficulty walking out in an evacuation? Who might need critical medication if required to remain on site for several days or longer?

It is also important to consider that ALL your staff may have special needs after a disaster. Your employees are your most valuable asset. Providing support for them after an emergency will help them, which will then help your business to remain open and run smoothly.

This support may include:

  • Crisis counseling
  • Reduced or flexible work hours
  • Cash advances
  • Salary continuation
  • Care packages
  • Day care

E. Business Continuity/Recovery Plan

E1. Back-Up Arrangements/Procedures In Place with Vendors/Suppliers/Other Organizations

Have a discussion with your suppliers, vendors and partner organizations to identify business interruptions in the event of a large scale emergency, such as a flood or earthquake. Talk about how pick-up, delivery and distribution services can continue if your business suffers an interruption. Have your suppliers identified alternate delivery routes if certain major freeways/streets are impassable? Review contracts for any obligations that your facility may have during business interruptions.

E2. Financial and Administrative Procedures

Ensure that your business’ important records, including copies of this emergency plan, are stored in several secure locations, both in hard copy and online. Examples are listed in the template and can be added to as you decide what your crucial documents are.

E3. Back-Up Location and Systems

Alternate location: If your facility is not safe following an emergency event such as an earthquake or fire, possible alternative locations should be identified that could serve as an operation site for your business. Develop relationships with other nearby businesses to share one of your sites should either of your facilities become inaccessible. Can you secure a tent and operate in the parking lot if your facility is unsafe? What would you need to set up off-site operations, for example signage, manual credit card equipment, etc?

E4. Back-Up Copies of Financial Records

Essential documents should be easily accessible and stored in a water-proof, fire-proof container. Copies of the documents should also be stored in an off-site location where they can be retrieved quickly. Essential documents include:

  • Emergency call lists and contact and identification information (wallet size, if possible) – lists should include all persons on- and off-site who would be involved in responding to an emergency, their responsibilities and their 24-hour telephone numbers.
  • Building plans and site maps – should show utility shutoffs, floor plans, fire extinguishers, exits, stairways, designated escape routes and hazardous materials.
  • Insurance policies
  • Bank account records
  • Supplier and shipping contact lists
  • Computer back ups
  • Emergency or law enforcement contact information
  • Resource lists – should include a list of major resources (equipment, supplies and services) that could be needed in an emergency and mutual aid agreements with other companies, organizations, including the Red Cross, and government agencies

F. Helping Others

Are there ways that your business can assist the community in its preparedness efforts? Starting with your own customers, your staff and their families is a great place to begin, making sure that they will be as prepared and safe as possible. Then can you reach out to other local businesses, sharing what you have achieved and offering to assist smaller businesses in their efforts to prepare. In the aftermath of a major disaster, how might your business and staff assist the community in recovery efforts? Is it possible to partner with a local school to assist their emergency plans?