The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) describes an emergency as "any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries to employees, customers or the public; or that can shut down your business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the facility's financial standing or public image." Emergencies, crisis situations and disasters can occur at any time, anywhere, without much warning.

Businesses throughout the United States are working in concert with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to follow the nationally recognized guidelines on how to best respond and manage an emergency or crisis situation. The National Incident Management System (NIMS), or as sometimes referred to as the Incident Command System (ISC), is being used by businesses, public safety agencies and schools to be better prepared to effectively control an emergency situation from beginning to end. The federal government has also developed the National Response Plan (NRP) which identifies how the resources of the federal government can be used to assist state and local authorities, as well as the private sector, in responding to an incident of national significance.

Four (4) phases of emergency/crisis planning:

  1.   Mitigation Ways to reduce risk to live and damage to property
  2.   Preparedness —Advanced planning to address emergency/crisis situations
  3.   Response — How to deal with and react to the situation
  4.   Recovery — Restoring the work environment after a crisis or emergency

This "quick reference guide" is simple to use, concise in format, with clarity of purpose. It can be a source of invaluable information when needed on an expedited basis.  A well thought out plan can minimize the negative effects of the emergency or crisis, reduce exposure, and prevent serious injury, damage to property and most importantly, save lives.

Knowing what to do in an emergency or crisis can make the difference between success or failure, calm or confusion, confidence or uncertainty and even life or death. Your Emergency Management Plan starts with understanding the potential threats, planning for an emergency and responding appropriately. Everyone needs to have a plan of action in order to be prepared to meet the challenges in a potentially dangerous situation or incident. Knowing how to respond to these emergencies is essential to mitigating the impact and surviving the incident. On the left-hand side of this page is a list of potential disasters. Click on any of these to obtain information on what actions to take should any of those emergencies occur.