While you hope your restaurant will not face severe weather during hurricane season, it always pays to be prepared. NOAA forecasts a busy Atlantic hurricane season from June through November 2020, with 13–19 named storms and 3–6 major hurricanes.
Considering the risks, proactively preparing restaurants for hurricane season is a must. Here are steps you can take to protect your business.
Know Hurricane Season Impacts
Hurricanes can occur from the Gulf Coast up to New England and areas inland and do significant damage to restaurant buildings and contents. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
- Storm surge can raise coastal sea levels by up to 30 feet, submerging low-lying areas.
- Winds of 39–110 mph or more can cause severe damage, injuries and deaths.
- Torrential rains can cause inland rivers to flood and lead to mudslides.
- Hurricanes may even spawn other hazards such as tornados.
- Blocked or damaged roads, downed power lines or fires can also occur in severe storms.
Make a Risk Assessment
Your building and its contents are likely your biggest assets and can also be costly to replace. A risk assessment can help ensure you are better prepared and protected. Start with an evaluation of your particular risks, such as vulnerability to storm surge, inland flooding or wind damage.
Research Insurance Options
Proper insurance coverage can help you protect your restaurant’s building and its contents. Once you understand the particular risks that your location faces, educate yourself on coverage options that make sense for your business. Explore options for Property coverage, Business Interruption Insurance and more.
Develop a Hurricane Plan
Accurately forecasting the path of a hurricane, its strength and the impact on your local area is difficult. But there are ways you can prepare for any storm well in advance.
- Create an emergency response plan and share it with employees. Make sure the plan is documented in writing and revisit it regularly.
- Consider stocking supplies you may need in the event of a hurricane, such as generators, sandbags and window coverings.
- Keep duplicate records, or invest in software that will backup essential, sensitive documents. Cyber Liability Insurance may also be beneficial.
- Decide on a communications plan to keep customers and employees informed about potential store closings or other restaurant emergencies.
Follow Your Plan
Your restaurant’s hurricane response plan will be unique to your business and the situation, but here are some key points if you do face a storm this season:
Before a hurricane:
- Determine the conditions for deciding to close
- Back up computer systems and deposit excess cash
- Store important documents in watertight containers
- Check batteries for flashlights and weather radios
- Secure or remove loose outdoor furniture
- Board up windows and sandbag the doors
- Unplug equipment and shut off the main gas before closing
During a hurricane:
- Stay on top of developing weather news
- Keep communication open in case closure is necessary
- Make sure the gas line is shut off
- Remind employees of hazards, such as wind, debris, downed power lines and fast-moving water
After a hurricane:
- Survey for damage
- Report downed power lines to 911
- Document damage with photos and descriptions
- Ensure the structure is stable and secure
- Check for flood damage and contamination of supplies
- Assess inventory and restock if needed
Stay Up to Date
Your restaurant’s hurricane risk may change over time, perhaps even yearly. Be sure to review your business’s needs and insurance policies annually to ensure you have the right coverage in place.