Hurricane season has arrived and by the way 2020 is treating us so far, we better get prepared! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an "above-normal" 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with 13 to 19 named storms spanning from June 1 - November 30.

Flood waters, power outages, and spoiled inventory are just a few named challenges that restaurants face after a natural disaster. Unfortunately, FEMA estimates that about 40 percent of small businesses will never reopen after experiencing such disaster. We have put together a list of actions to take before, during, and after a hurricane to help you beat that statistic.

When a storm approaches, owners need to communicate new directives and ensure execution quickly. Having a plan of action will help prepare your restaurant and employees in a timely manner. 

1.  Before a Natural Disaster, Plan Ahead:
  • Create a plan of action.
    • Determine when to make the decision to close restaurant doors.
    • Take pictures of everything in your restaurant and take inventory.
    • Back-up computer systems.
    • Make sure your business records are in a safe place.
    • Place sandbags at all entrances and exits.
    • Board up all of the windows.
    • Bring outside objects inside.
    • Unplug all electronics.
    • Deposit excess cash.
    • Turn off your gas line before closing your restaurant.
  • Check on all of the restaurant's insurance policies.
  • Create a communication plan.
    • Set up a team of employees that will be able to take action in communicating the new directives effectively.

2.  During a Natural Disaster, Focus on the following:

  • Track the progress of the storm through all available media outlets.
  • Communicate to employees when the next course of action will take place.
  • If your restaurant remains open, ensure employees know to stay away from windows and doors.

3.  After a Natural Disaster, Reopen Efficiently:

  • Survey the damage.
    • Take pictures with a detailed report of the damage for management.
    • Double check for contaminated water damage or down power lines.
    • Have a third party assess the damage and confirm the stability of the building.
  • Communicate inventory levels.
    • If power outages occur, as soon as possible create ice baths for TCS foods: eggs, meats, seafood, milk, cheese, prepared foods, or cooked vegetables.
    • Discard any TCS foods that have been above 41° F for more than 2 hours. Use a calibrated thermometer to test the temperature of foods.
    • Use your senses. Any food that smells off, looks off-color or has changed texture should be immediately discarded. 
  • Check for clean water supply and sufficient plumbing.
    • If water is contaminated or if there is a boil advisory, use bottled water for drinking and cooking
  • Use the National Restaurant Association’s hurricane resources to assist with any help the restaurant may need.

 

Hurricanes are rarely predictable and usually have us scrambling for time. But, following these recommended guidelines will help minimize safety risks and losses, and help you get back on your feet in no time.