How to Prepare Your Restaurant for an Emergency

hurricane-preparednessThe summer storm and hurricane season is in full swing, affecting nearly every part of the country. Often sudden, these storms can cause extensive damage and knock out power in a matter of seconds.  Protect your employees and customers by planning ahead for emergencies. Following these simple steps ensures that your restaurant will be prepared should disaster strike.

Create an Emergency Plan

A well-crafted emergency plan is crucial for guaranteeing the safety of restaurant guests and employees. Additionally, having an emergency plan in place can save you time and money when reopening your restaurant after an emergency has occurred. Here are a few things that every emergency plan should contain:

Evacuation Routes

Take a look around your restaurant and determine the safest location for guests and employees to go during a storm. Look for an interior area with no windows, such as a bathroom, office, or the kitchen. Also, pick an area outside your restaurant for guests and employees to gather should an evacuation become necessary.

Document Management

Information is crucial for helping you to quickly reopen your business after an emergency, so always keep multiple copies of important business documents in a safe location outside your restaurant. Store extra copies of employee emergency contact information, insurance policies, permits, financial records, and payroll documents on a USB drive or external hard drive in an offsite location such as your home or a safe deposit box at your bank.

Communication Methods

You can’t always count on cell phones for communication following a storm, so consider alternate means of communication to provide updates to your employees and customers. Social media is a great way to quickly disseminate important business information. Make sure your employees and customers are connected to you via Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to receive quick alerts after a storm.

Food Safety Guidelines

Preparing in advance for power outages and floods can save you thousands in spoiled food costs. Always keep thermometers in all of your restaurant’s refrigerators and freezers to help you monitor food temperatures during an outage. If possible, relocate canned foods to higher shelves in advance of a pending storm to protect them from flood water.

Train Your Staff for Emergencies

Every member of your staff should be trained on emergency procedures. In addition to initial training for new employees, schedule quarterly emergency preparedness meetings for all employees to review emergency guidelines. Appoint several emergency captains to be in charge of directing staff members and guests to safe areas during an emergency.

Stock Up on Emergency Supplies

Although it is not necessary to have a huge storm stockpile, you should always have a few emergency supplies on hand.  Flashlights, batteries, and first aid kits, are always a good idea, as well as a dependable weather radio.