Restaurant Survival Guide to Hurricane Season

By Cassie Ebinger

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane season is once again upon us. The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project team forecasts 13 named storms and five hurricanes throughout this year’s season spanning June 1 – November 30.

These strong storms wreak havoc with their battering winds and rain. Between flood waters, power loss, and spoiled inventory, restaurant owners face many challenges during and after these natural disasters. Sadly, FEMA estimates that about 40 percent of small businesses will never reopen after a disaster.

Creating a hurricane preparation plan and sample emergency contact list is essential for the safety of your employees and swift recovery of your operation.

When a storm approaches, operators need to quickly communicate new directives and ensure execution. Here’s how restaurant/retail operators on Zenput prepare their locations to protect employees, reduce property damage, and reopen efficiently.

Before a Storm, Communicate the Following Objectives:

  • Deposit excess cash
  • Create a process to decide whether to close a location during the storm
  • Locate the nearest Emergency Room and post its address in a visible place
  • Remove important documents from store or place them in a watertight plastic bag
  • Unplug all electronic devices before closing the location
  • Obtain a weather radio and make sure batteries are working – ensure employees are up to date on weather alerts
  • Back up computer systems
  • Check outdoors for loose objects that may be blown away with high winds; secure or move them inside
  • If possible, sandbag entrance/exit doors
  • Shut off main gas line before closing the location
  • Board windows and doors

During a Hurricane, Focus on the Following:

  • If location remains open, communicate to employees that they must remain indoors and away from windows
  • Stay informed of weather developments
  • If weather deteriorates, communicate to management that closure is required
  • Ensure main gas line is shut off
  • Be on the lookout for downed power lines
  • Communicate to employees how to discourage customers from approaching danger areas

After a Storm, This is How to Reopen Efficiently:

  • Survey the location for damage. If you, or an employee, encounter downed power lines, call 911 immediately
  • Send detailed damage reports with photos so management can dispatch the appropriate resources for a swift re-open, and have documentation of the damage to decrease the time to file insurance claims
  • Communicate inventory levels; if low, request a restock
  • Before reopening location, check for signs of contaminated flood water damage and downed power lines
  • Ensure food supplies are uncontaminated and in stock
  • Get a third party to confirm structures are stable and secure

Follow these checklists to minimize safety risks and losses, and recover quickly from the storm.

If you want to improve communication before, during, and after a hurricane, Zenput is here to help. Reach us at or (800) 537-0227

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