Ever thought about what you’d do if disaster struck your town, or more specifically your business? Maybe you think it could never happen to you.  Tim McCreery, the CEO of WildPackets in San Francisco used to feel that way – that is, until his small business burnt down in 2002. In a tragedy of historic proportion, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 destroyed around 60 percent of the small businesses in New Orleans and shuttered almost 20,000 businesses across the state.

When emergencies and disasters strike small businesses, the “ripple effect” can be overwhelming and devastating, often reaching surrounding communities as well.  And sadly, according to the Insurance Information Institute, four in ten small businesses affected by a natural or man-made disaster never reopen.

Those are the statistics that power AT&T’s initiative “Safeguard Your Business,” which highlights the importance of disaster preparedness for small businesses.  Adding to a number of existing disaster recovery resources, such as the Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) Team and Vital Connections, “Safeguard Your Business” is the first dedicated entirely to small businesses.  And it’s just in time for the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which began June 1.

Small businesses can quickly assess their readiness for emergencies and disasters with an interactive “Quick Check for Disaster Prep” online tool that helps businesses build preparedness plans.  The Quick Check integrates with the American Red Cross’ Ready Rating program, which is designed to help businesses become better prepared for emergencies.

The need for the “Safeguard Your Business” program became especially obvious following the 2012 Small Business Technology Poll, which revealed that small businesses are becoming less concerned about data security, with only half of business owners reporting concerns about cyber security, down from 58 percent last year and 68 percent in 2010. And just as alarming, most small business still back up data on site and less frequently than larger businesses. As you might guess, this is exactly the opposite of what needs to happen.

Because data loss can have just as big of an impact as a natural disaster, data backup and cyber security should be top priorities for business owners of all sizes.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded AT&T its certification for disaster preparedness – the first company in the country to earn such a distinction. Under the DHS Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Program, the program enables organizations to enhance their capabilities for planning, responding, and recovering from natural disasters and other threats.

There are many resources to help you in safeguarding your business. Find out more on Facebook or Twitter. If you have preparedness tips you’d like to share with others in the industry, tweet them using the #ATTSafeguard hashtag.

To check your preparedness IQ, take the Quick Check for Disaster Prep and earn a chance to win data backup and tech support services from AT&T.