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Worst-Case Scenario

How would your business take a September 11-level tragedy? Only the best preparation can ensure it rises from the rubble.

This story appears in the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon on September 11, the 37 employees at Children's World Learning Center, the Pentagon's day-care facility, knew exactly what to do. They calmly led the kids out of their building, situated near the Pentagon, to a safe location. It turns out that these day-care employees were just following the evacuation drill they practice once a month. Even though confusion was all around them, they remained "pretty calm, as far as what to do," says Shirley Allen, the day-care center's director. "It helped a lot in a real emergency."

As Allen knows, a little planning can save lives. But Gartner Inc. estimates only 25 to 35 percent of small companies have a disaster management plan, compared to 85 percent of large businesses. Even worse, Gartner estimates that two out of five companies that are hit by disaster go out of business within five years. The following tips may save lives, as well as your business.

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