How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Emergencies

By Elizabeth Kelly

Sometimes the worst happens. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods are dangerous, and can be costly to your restaurant. You can mitigate that cost by planning ahead. 

Have a plan in place. 

You know your city and what types of natural disasters and emergencies are most likely to occur. If your restaurant is situated in Chicago, you should spend more time preparing for a winter storm than, say, a pizzeria in southern Texas. That Texan pizzeria should focus on preparing for hurricane season. 

Once you’ve evaluated the possible natural disasters that could affect your restaurant, create a plan to address each one. Keep the plans simple, and remember that your safety, and the safety of your employees and customers, comes first. 

In each plan, ensure you address:


If phone lines are down, are you going to be able to communicate with your employees? Are emergency service numbers listed somewhere easily accessible to your staff? Is your number available in the event of an emergency? 

Shelter and safe areas:

In the event of a tornado or earthquake, where should your customers and staff take shelter? 


Have clear signage on where emergency exits are located, and train staff on how to notify customers that they need to evacuate the building. Identify a safe location outside the building for staff to meet and ensure everyone is accounted for.


The sad reality is that many people will take advantage of natural disasters and evacuations to steal from businesses and homes. Have a plan to secure your restaurant in the event of an evacuation, including locking doors and securing cash registers and computers out of sight. 


If you lose power, will you lose the stock in your fridges and freezers? Have a plan for back-up power, or to move inventory in the event of a power failure. 

First Aid:

Are some of your staff trained in first aid? Are emergency numbers for the police and ambulance readily accessible to staff? Do you have a stocked and up-to-date first aid kit?

Backup your data and protect your POS. 

Keep a regular back-up schedule for all of your restaurant’s computers and data. Not all emergencies come with an early warning. In the event of an earthquake or fire, you’ll be happy that you’ve regularly backed-up your point of sale data. Read about strategies for backing up your system in Protecting your POS Data: Creating a Backup Strategy. Ideally, you’ll want to backup your POS database daily. 

To help prevent damage, if you have time, lift your computers up off the floor, or if possible remove them from the site entirely. If not, ensure your computers, monitors, and battery backups are turned off and unplugged. Then, wrap the computers, monitors and any other hardware in garbage bags or plastic sheeting.

SpeedLine customers can find more information in the Store Disaster Preparedness Checklist in the SpeedLine Knowledge Base

Once the emergency is over, and you have returned to your store, contact your vendors to get yourself back up and running. Your point of sale vendor should help you restore your system from the back up.

Check your insurance coverage.

What are, and aren’t, you covered for? Knowing in advance will help you prepare for the worst. Think over the most likely disaster scenarios, and make sure you are covered for them. Some insurance companies require a mandatory waiting period before a claim can be made, so make any necessary changes to your policy now, before this year’s storm season arrives.

Prepare now, well in advance of any emergencies to ensure your business can get back up and running as quickly as possible. 


Posted on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 @ 07:08 AM.
Updated on May 13, 2020 @ 3:42 PM PST.

Posted by Elizabeth Kelly

As the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions Inc., Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for On Point: The Restaurant Technology Blog. Have an idea for an article? Send her a message!

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Tags: Restaurant Management

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