The best time to prepare for hurricanes is before the event occurs. In preparing for a hurricane, the hotel industry should take measures to:
- Assess the vulnerability of the property to structural as well as non-structural damage.
- Establish Emergency Coordinating Teams led by the General Manager or his/her designate. Supervisors of all departments should be included.
- Establish mutual aid agreements with other hotels should a disaster occur.
- Have outlined or established evacuation procedures should evacuation become necessary.
- Establish procedures for handling vital records.
- Ensure that a weather monitoring equipment is in place.
- Provide guest with information brochures.
- Implement staff training programmes in the areas of first aid, CPR as well as hurricane procedure.
At the hotel, all departments/functions of the property must play a role from the alert phase of the hurricane, through the strike and after the event.
When a Hurricane Approaches
When a hurricane approaches, the tasks for management include:
- Tracking the hurricane
- Activating an Emergency Coordinating Team
- Establishing contact with the ODPEM
When a Hurricane Watch is Issued
When the hurricane is 36-hours away from the island:
- Each department must activate its procedure. Housekeeping, Engineering/Maintenance, General Manager/Front Office, Security, Kitchen/Food and Beverage, Grounds. All persons within the various areas must be involved in preparation.
- Call meeting with guests. Explain situation, suggest their departure for home or to the nearest shelter organized by hotel.
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When the hurricane is 24 hours away:
- All safety procedures must be implemented
- Staff duty roster must be activated
- Measures must be taken to ensure that guest comfort is implemented
- Secure premises, food, fuel and water
- Move to pre-determined safe area.
During a Hurricane
- Instill a sense of security and confidence among guests.
- General Manager must be visible to guests.
- Communications with guests must be kept open.
- Management must be seen to be in control.
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After a Hurricane
Guest relations are important, particularly in regards to contacting family, friends and for departure from the island.
Also efforts should made to assist guest in returning home.
A high level of preparedness can reduce the impact of natural events and it is imperative that hotels make appropriate preparations to ensure safety of guests and staff and to reduce the level of damage and dislocation, which can be caused by a hurricane.
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