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American Red Cross Launches Ready Rating Program to Prepare Businesses and Schools for Emergencies in 16 U.S. Cities From Coast to Coast
Date:9/22/2009

Generous $2.1 Million Donation from Anheuser-Busch Foundation Expands Program Across the Nation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The American Red Cross today launched a new one-of-a-kind Ready Rating program to help both schools and businesses in 16 U.S. cities with their emergency planning and preparedness efforts.

(Logo:http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090108/RedCrossLOGO)

Schools and businesses can face a number of emergencies that threaten to disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods and wildfires to the possible widespread H1N1 flu virus that looms this fall and winter. In fact, one in four businesses that are forced to close because of a disaster never reopen, and Ready Rating can help businesses from becoming part of those statistics.

The Red Cross Ready Rating program offers free memberships to businesses and schools, which can use an online checklist to measure their current preparedness. Ready Rating members score themselves annually with the checklist and maintain their membership by developing and implementing an emergency response plan and improving their overall score each year.

"Business leaders and school officials know how important it is to be ready for an emergency, but they often don't take the right steps to prepare because they don't know where to start or they do not have the time," said Joe White, Red Cross senior vice president for chapter services. "This program was created to give businesses and schools an easy starting point so they can feel more confident about the safety of employees and students. Ready Rating is good for businesses and schools, good for employees and students, and good for the local communities."

Ready Rating first began as a project of the American Red Cross of Greater St. Louis, where it now has nearly 150 members, including major businesses, schools and organizations of all sizes. Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., was the founding sponsor of the program and the first company to implement it.

The Red Cross is now rolling out Ready Rating to 16 other cities as a result of a $2.1 million grant from Anheuser-Busch. The program is starting in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Raleigh, N.C., and Chicago. Eight additional cities will be added early next year -- Hartford, Portland, Denver, Houston, Columbus, OH, Boston, Bismarck, and San Jose.

"Whether it's hurricanes on the coast, tornadoes and floods in the Midwest or wildfires and earthquakes in the west, businesses and individuals need to stand ready," said Dave Peacock, president of Anheuser-Busch. "No American city is immune to natural disasters, and Anheuser-Busch has a long history of supporting disaster relief and the commendable work of the American Red Cross. We believe preparedness is the first step to keep our employees and businesses safe, and as the founding member of the Ready Rating Program, we are proud to lead the effort to make this available to other communities around the country."

Ready Rating also encourages businesses and schools to promote personal preparedness efforts among employees, students and families. A recent Red Cross survey* showed that 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 steps necessary to prepare.

More information about the program can be found at www.ReadyRating.org.

*This research was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Red Cross between July 24 and August 7, 2009 among 1306 U.S. residents aged 18 or older, including an over-sample of 487 mothers of children under 18 weighted appropriately into the general population sample. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization -- not a government agency -- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit RedCross.org or join our blog at http://blog.RedCross.org.

About Anheuser-Busch

For more than 100 years, Anheuser Busch, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, and the Anheuser Busch Foundation have reached out to groups in need, contributing to community organizations across the country and touching countless individual lives. During the past decade alone, the company and its foundation have donated more than $370 million to charitable organizations, including those that support education, economic development and environmental conservation. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com


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SOURCE American Red Cross
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