Warmer weather, blooming flowers, increased guest traffic… what’s not to love about spring? The only downside to spring, it might seem, is the increased threat of severe weather. Weather events such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms threaten not only your restaurant’s property, but also the lives of your employees and guests. Severe weather preparedness training is the key to to staying safe during severe weather season.

Remember S.O.S to Train Your Staff for Weather Preparedness

Every restaurant location will have its own specific severe weather procedures, and typically training topics on severe weather focus on safety and security. Don’t wait until severe weather is on its way to train your staff. Weather preparedness training should be part of your orientation program, and refresher sessions should happen regularly. When training your staff to be prepared for severe weather, remember the acronym SOS: Self, Others, Store.

Self: Keep Yourself Safe

It’s like the instructions flight attendants give — you have to keep yourself safe in order to help others. Again, preparedness is key. Follow these steps to keep yourself safe:

Stay aware. Have a weather radio in the store or an alert system on your phone so you’re aware of quickly changing weather conditions.

Know your restaurant’s safety procedures, including the area of your location that is best to be in during a tornado. Often this is the restroom, closet, interior hallway, or small room in the center of the restaurant, away from windows.

Understand watches vs. warnings. When a severe weather watch is issued by the National Weather Service, it means weather conditions are favorable for a severe event to occur. When watches are issued, store managers should review emergency action plans with the team and continue to monitor broadcasts. Warnings require that immediate action be taken, and danger is imminent.

Use good judgment. Nothing will keep you and your staff safer than a healthy dose of common sense. As severe weather approaches, stay inside, and encourage others to do the same.

Others: Keep Your Staff and Guests Safe

Public location such as restaurants often become busy as severe weather approaches and people seek shelter. This presents unique challenges to managers and staff. Follow these steps to keep others safe:

  • As manager, take control. Explain the conditions as you understand them, and maintain calmness even if things feel chaotic. Never exaggerate the danger to customers or employees.
  • If the emergency broadcast system issues a warning, announce it clearly four times: twice outside and twice inside.
  • Do not deny shelter to anyone. If someone inside your store decides to leave, discourage them, but do not attempt to physically stop them.
  • In case of an injury or other medical emergency, administer first aid to the best of your ability and alert medical response teams immediately.
  • Once the storm has passed, announce possible dangers, such as broken glass and other dangerous debris, fire, gas leaks, and electrical hazards.

Store: Keep Your Restaurant Property Safe

While the safety of your customers and employees is most important, as manager it’s also your job to protect the the restaurant. Once you’ve done everything you can to keep yourself and others safe, follow these tips to secure the property.

  • If you lose power, place a sign in the window alerting customers that registers are down and the restaurant is closed. Depending on the weather emergency, lock the exterior doors.
  • Close and lock all checkout terminals and cash control areas.
  • Drop and secure excess cash when a weather emergency is imminent.

Remember, being prepared for severe weather is critical to safety and security. Online courses for severe weather preparedness training make it easy to train new employees and regularly assess your staff readiness.

For more weather related resources, visit the National Weather Service “Weather Ready Nation” site.