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Emergency Planning: Restaurants and Bars

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

By Society Insurance

Business emergencies can take many forms such as fires, tornadoes and robberies, to name a few. An emergency plan should lay out instructions that can be developed and implemented in emergency situations. Emergency plans allow business owners to react quickly and minimize impact. Detailed below are the necessary phases businesses should focus on for emergency management:

Phase I: Mitigation - The beginning of the emergency planning process is identifying the greatest internal and external vulnerabilities. After that, restaurant and bar owners should identify prevention plans to reduce the amount of damage if a disaster does happen. This can include reviewing insurance to ensure the right coverages and policy limits are in place.

Phase II: Preparedness - Precautionary preparedness can help save lives, protect property and help response and rescue personnel. Knowing this before the emergency occurs is the best step for recovery. Here are some steps to think about as you develop your plan:

  1. Do you have emergency lighting in the building to help customers and employees exit if the power fails?

  2. Is there a plan to prevent food spoilage?

  3. Are critically important computer files (payroll records, financial statements, contracts, etc.) backed up off-site?

  4. Is there a burglar alarm for all doors and windows with a panic feature at cash registers? (All alarms should be linked to a 24-hour service.)

  5. Are employees trained to always cooperate during a robbery and never fight or argue with the robber?

  6. Are you meeting with your insurance agent at least annually to review coverages and values?

  7. Is a video surveillance system installed?

  8. Do you have a safe that is adequately sized, fireproof, and bolted to the floor?

  9. Have you identified a safe place in case of a tornado?

Phase III: Response - This phase is where actions take place to save lives. If a disaster does happen, business owners should contact local police and fire departments. Completion of the emergency plan requires implementation. Employee training is critical, and orientation training seminars and annual training seminars should be in place that include fire safety. Every employee should know where the emergency pull station is for the AES over the cooking line. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards require annual employee training on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Phase IV: Recovery - This final phase includes the actions taken to return to normal working conditions or a safer situation following the emergency. Restaurant and bar operators should notify insurance companies as soon as possible and secure the site to prevent further damage.

Businesses of all types can find more information on preparedness planning on the Federal Emergency Planning Agency’s (FEMA) “Ready” website. This website follows the program elements within NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standard 1600 on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs.

Society Insurance is committed to helping businesses operate in a safe and practical way. Learn more business best practices by visiting

This information is provided as a convenience for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal or professional advice. It is provided to assist you in recognizing potential unsafe work problems or conditions and not to establish compliance with any law, rule or regulation.

Society Insurance is recognized throughout the industry as a leader in providing superior restaurant and bar insurance custom-tailored to fit the unique needs of each operation. To learn more, visit

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