To support restaurant operators and employees, who are often the last ones out of the path of dangerous weather and often the first back after emergency crews have cleared a disaster zone, the National Restaurant Association has created an industry-specific disaster preparation guide, Always Ready: Natural Disasters.

“The time to plan for a disaster is before one unfolds. For restaurants, this is especially important because they meet critical community infrastructure needs in the wake of a crisis. Every location needs a preparedness plan and time set aside every year to review and update that plan,” says Michelle Korsmo, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association. “Always Ready: Natural Disasters brings together the knowledge and experience of industry experts who have successfully guided restaurants through every part of a disaster with the aim of getting restaurants back open and serving our communities as soon as possible.”

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), in 2021 the US experienced 20 weather disasters that exceeded $1 billion in losses, with combined losses for these events topping $145 billion. According to research by Munich Re, insured losses from major natural disasters in 2021 were estimated at $85 billion. The NCEI warns that the number and cost of weather disasters in the US are increasing, and the US Small Business Administration states that about 25 percent of businesses don’t reopen after a disaster.

The Always Ready guide provides actionable steps for any owner or operator to assess their exposure and create a disaster response plan for before, during and after a threat. The Guide includes:

  • Insurance considerations
  • Document backup overview
  • Checklist for creating an emergency contact list and emergency supply lists
  • Understanding communication methods
  • Step-by-step assessment by type of natural disaster, including:
    • Earthquakes
    • Floods
    • Hurricanes and Tornadoes
    • Wildfires
    • Severe Winter Storms
  • Safe cleanup protocols, and reopening recommendations

“Restaurants aren’t like other businesses – our product is perishable, and our neighbors want to gather at our tables for comfort after a disaster,” says Korsmo. “So, our path to recovery must be well thought out, quick and safe. The number and intensity of natural disasters is predicted to get worse in the coming years. Planning now will help mitigate losses to those storms and help ensure that we can continue to be cornerstones in our communities.”

The Always Ready: Natural Disasters Guide is available for free to all operators.