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Have a Plan: 5 Things Hotels Can Do Now to Prepare for Hurricane Season 2018

The good news: Forecasters predict the 2018 hurricane season will be relatively quiet compared to last year’s eventful season.
 
The bad news: That doesn’t mean there won’t be any serious storms.
 
In fact, anywhere from 5 to 9 hurricanes are predicted for 2018, with between 1 and 4 of those becoming major, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
 
If you’re a hotel located in hurricane-vulnerable states like Florida and Texas, or along the Atlantic coastline, having a plan isn’t just a good idea - it’s a must. Check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit for help developing a plan.
 
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. As we approach peak season, here are 5 tips for hotel hurricane preparedness:
 
Don’t Just Have a Plan. Share It.
 
The core of any hotel preparedness plan should be how you’ll maintain the safety of guest and employees, how you’ll protect your building and business records, and how you’ll resume business. But beyond the checklists, how will you share your plan if the power goes out or employees are displaced? Experts suggest keeping several printed copies of your plan, property site maps and other important documents in a water-resistant emergency supply kit on site. But don’t stop there. You should also keep your plan at an off-site location such as an emergency management center.
 
Get to know your Local Emergency Management Center 
 

If you haven’t already, pay a visit to your local Emergency Management Agency. This government-run office is an offshoot of FEMA and will be ground zero for communication during serious weather, as well as emergency workers and federal representatives. This is where evacuation orders will originate as well as re-entry plans. Determine what phone numbers you can call for updates, and a contact for any questions you may have.
 
Make Mutual Aid Agreements 
 
A mutual aid agreement is an arrangement made with another business or hotel to assist in the event of an emergency. If your property is ordered to evacuate, having a mutual aid agreements in place can ensure safety for your displaced guests. Prior to storms, contact hotels in non-evacuation zones to establish agreements. Also consider establishing mutual aid agreements with retailers to purchase supplies at a discounted rate or for transport of workers. Those agreements can assist in opening sooner once a storm passes.
 
Establish a Two-Way Communication Plan
 
Two-way communication is integral during a hurricane. Text messaging and mobile app push notifications are ideal for quick messages to staff before and during a storm. It’s also a good idea to consider keeping at least one source of communication that does not require power or the Internet on site, like a landline phone or a HAM radio. 
 
Practice a Run Through 
 
Set a date to practice your hurricane plan with staff by holding a mock storm-drill. Practice carrying out your plan during different storm scenarios, including running through the chain of command and testing-out communication systems. Practice both planned and impromptu drills to ensure your staff is primed and ready for a disaster if and when it strikes.

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