How restaurants should prepare for Hurricane Harvey


With a potentially historic hurricane bearing down on Texas, operators in the South Central area are scrambling to safeguard their employees and businesses. Here’s a preparation checklist that might help.

The tips were compiled in 2012 by the National Restaurant Association from its Louisiana and Florida affiliates for Hurricane Isaac, a far less severe storm than the one that’s expected this weekend. Hurricane Harvey is anticipated to be the most severe storm the United States has seen since Katrina in 2005.

Here, courtesy of the NRA, the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, is what operators in Harvey’s path are advised to do:

Assess the situation. Use common sense and available resources to take care of yourself, your co-workers and your business's recovery.

• Think first about the basics of survival. Make sure you have access to fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.

• Talk to your people. Involve all co-workers in all levels of emergency planning.

Carefully evaluate internal and external operations. Determine which staff members, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary for the business to keep operating.

• Internal communications. Detail how you will be in contact with employees, customers and others during and after a disaster. Make sure you have a staff phone tree, including cellphone numbers, as well as management contact information. Also have benefit contact information and vendor contact information available.

• External communications. Make sure you have signs available indicating your restaurant is closed, cancel all reservations and parties and post your closing information on the home page of your website.

• Take steps to ensure your safety. Have the upper hand in responding to medical emergencies.

• Shelter in place or evacuate. Make sure you plan for both possibilities.

Conduct a room-by-room walk-through. Determine what needs to be secured and then take steps to secure those physical assets.

 Secure the area. Board up the windows, place sandbags by the doors/entrances to reduce flooding, remove ice from the ice bins or ice machines and unplug all appliances and electronics.

• Prepare for utility and essential services disruptions. Know what to do for extended outages during and after a disaster. This could include electricity, potable water, gas and phone service.

• Reduce food supplies. If you find yourself in need of evacuation and you have food on hand, consider donating it to the local fire department, shelters and emergency facilities.

• Cybersecurity. Make sure your data and information technology systems are protected.

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