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5 Restaurant Emergencies and How to Prepare for Them

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Emergencies happen whether you want them to or not. Preparing for them is the best way to ensure your restaurant will continue functioning or receive help if needed.

Remember that even when you have a concrete plan, you must practice those steps to mitigate disaster. By identifying, prepping for and enacting strategies during an emergency, you can uphold your restaurant even in the worst circumstances.

What are some common restaurant emergencies and how can you prep for them? Here are five examples of problems you may run into and the best ways to solve them.

1. Fire

Fires can happen frequently in restaurants, whether in the dining area or the kitchen. Exhaust hoods, grease traps and ductwork are some of the typical culprits of a fire. There could be electrical fires or stray flames from cooking equipment as well. While lit candles might give your diners a romantic mood, knocking one over is incredibly easy.

The best way to avoid a fire is to practice safety. Make sure staff secure their uniforms and store paper goods away from flames. Have routine inspections on your equipment and ducts to see if professionals think something needs fixing. Follow the best practices for cleaning dust and disposing of grease.

A fire may still happen even if you’re doing everything right. In that case, make sure your staff knows what to do. For small fires, remember to keep calm and select one person to get and use a fire extinguisher. If it spreads, elect someone to call emergency services and let patrons know where the exits are. Fires can be frightening, but with a practiced drill, you can prepare your restaurant for them.

2. Flood

Floods can be hard to predict. While you can follow steps to prevent a fire, you can’t exactly prevent a flood from happening. Yet, you still need to do your best to prepare in the event one occurs. These natural disasters can cause harm to both your property and your reputation, resulting in significant financial losses.

The first step to preparing for flooding is to purchase flood insurance. Floods often happen without prior knowledge. If a massive storm rolls in or temperature changes cause a pipe to burst, insurance can help reduce the cost of fixing the problem for you. While your area might not be at high risk of flooding, protecting yourself is always vital.

Another way to prep is by finding or making flood kits. Sandbags can help stop water from coming in or leaving a flooded area, tarps can protect electrical equipment and dehumidifiers make sure the space dries out. Additionally, have a plumber inspect your pipes to find leaks or cracks before they get worse. Evacuation practice could also be helpful for these situations.

3. Dead Car Battery

Your restaurant might either have a fleet of delivery vehicles or ask employees to use their own. Whichever the case, you run the risk of having the battery die at unexpected times. Someone might have accidentally left the lights on or not known the battery needed a replacement. Regardless, it’s an event that’s likely to happen once in a while.

Preparing for a dead battery is as easy as getting some jumper cables. Hopefully they’re stuck at a house with a working car and can ask the owners to give them a jump start. Teach your employees how to use them because there’s no guarantee the homeowner will know.

Sometimes they might get stuck somewhere random without another car to give them a hand. In that event, make sure they know there are ways to start a vehicle with no jumper cables. Taking the time to teach them these tricks can help them get up and running quickly and possibly save them a tow.

4. Injury

Due to the nature of the job, there will probably be some injuries. With all the flames, sharp objects and possible slippery surfaces, preparing for a few occurrences is essential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed over 93,000 restaurant workers suffered from non-fatal injuries in 2019.

Teach anyone who may handle knives how to use them safely. Even if someone thinks they know the best way to use a knife, it’s good practice to remind them. Ensure the staff is telling each other if there’s a spill and mark it accordingly. If it’s in the dining area, this could save both servers and customers from falling. Clean up and identify any areas with broken glass as well. Also, showing them how to stay safe while cooking with flames could stop potential burns.

If someone still does get injured, assess the level of severity. An employee might need a bit to recover from a fall, burn or cut. But, there is always the chance they may need extra medical attention. In that case, discuss with the employee if they have someone that can take them to receive care or if you should call an ambulance. If they ever lose consciousness, it’s best to call emergency services. Notify their families as soon as possible if they require an ambulance.

5. Choking

Time is of the essence when someone starts choking. In the best-case scenario, they’ll be able to cough enough to release whatever was blocking their airway. But, this might not always be the case.

If someone does choke, hopefully their family is there with them. If someone from their table can assist them, allow them to do so first. However, it’s a good idea to teach your staff how to help a person who is choking. It’s very possible that no one with them knows what to do or they may be eating alone.

There are different steps to take for adults, children and infants. This is critical training that may save a person’s life. Finding a good program to teach employees how to assist someone choking or give CPR is vital for preparing for this emergency. With proper training, they can help all customers dine safely.

Prepare for Restaurant Emergencies

Having a plan for unexpected situations can help you stay on top of your restaurant. Even if you think they may be unnecessary, preparation is the best way to set yourself up for success. For common and uncommon restaurant emergencies, make sure you’re ready for whatever could happen.

Author Bio: Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.

Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.

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