In light of the events of September 11, businesses are placing more emphasis on emergency planning. The best way to deal with an emergency is to be prepared in advance, says the Red Cross, which offers a variety of tips for business and industry to be ready in case a disaster or catastrophe strikes:

Investigate your locality. Find out which natural and technological hazards can potentially happen in your area. Get information about how to prepare your employees to respond to possible hazards.

Have a disaster plan. Disaster recovery begins before a disaster. When developing your plan, consider three subjects: human resources, physical resources and business continuity. Designate one employee from each work shift to be the safety coordinator. Think about what you would need to serve your customers even if your facility is closed.

Start building your plan now. - Make phone lists of your key employees and customers available to all staff. - Designate one remote voice mail number on which you can record messages for employees. - Arrange for programmable call-forwarding for your main business line. Then, if you can't get to the office, you can call in and reprogram the phones to ring elsewhere. - If you might not be able to get to your building quickly after an emergency, leave keys and alarm codes with a trusted employee who is closer. - Install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. - Back up computer data frequently each day. Keep a backup tape off site. - Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems. - Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on and when the signal sounds, listen for information about severe weather and protective actions to take. - Consult with your insurance agent about precautions to take for disasters. - Keep emergency supplies handy.

Reduce potential damage by taking precautions. - Bolt tall bookcases or display cases to wall studs. - Secure breakable objects to a stand or shelf using fasteners. - Move large objects to lower shelves. - Install latches to keep drawers and cabinets from flying open. - Secure your hot water heater to wall studs using plumber's tape or strap iron.

Many small businesses do not reopen after a major disaster like a flood, tornado or earthquake because they had no plan or backup systems.