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Keeping Your Restaurant Open During a Blackout


Power interruptions can occur during heat waves, severe weather, or even periods of increased solar flare activity. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it can take days to weeks for power to be restored; if you own a restaurant in an area prone to severe weather or experience frequent blackouts, here are some tips for keeping your business afloat and continuing to serve the community. 
Reliable backup power 
While solar systems can provide convenient backup power, panels can be easily damaged by hail, flying debris, and high winds. Additionally, it may take a large array to provide enough power for your business requirements, increasing the likelihood of damage from severe weather. 
Purchasing a diesel generator powered by a Perkins engine can provide your business with adequate, reliable power that can be more easily protected by a storm-resistant enclosure. Depending on the common threats in your area, design your system to provide at least a three- to the four-week supply of fuel. 
Safe water 
Potable water is often the first casualty in a major storm, especially when flooding compromises the local utility system. The first line of defense for restaurants is having a large capacity water storage system and a fresh supply of bottled water. For coastal locations, there are standalone water desalination systems in various stages of development, but there are also several different systems that can pull water from ambient humidity to create potable water. Whatever system or method you choose, get it approved by your local food safety regulator as a source of safe, potable water. 
Maintaining a sanitary restroom facility can be a challenge without municipal water or sewage. If you have an alternate power source, one option is incinerating toilet, though there are also various kinds of composting and waterless toilet designs as well. Waterless hand cleaners are easy to find at industrial and restaurant supply stores, and stock up on cleaning supplies like bleach, bleach-based wipes, and sprays. Plan for a mess after severe weather strikes and make cleaning supplies as important a priority as first aid and fire extinguishers while imagining scenarios where clean water may initially be in short supply. 
Alternative cooking sources 
Charcoal, gas grills, and smokers can provide an alternative means for outdoor cooking, water heating, and dishwashing. Standalone camp stoves can also come in handy, and for restaurants with some exterior space, cob ovens and DIY rocket stoves can be also be used for cooking, boiling, and baking. Digital and oven thermometers should be included in your emergency supply kit to ensure whatever method you use is getting food to the correct temperature. 
Storm menu 
Once you have a plan providing alternative power, water, and cooking sources that meet all required food safety standards, come up with a simple storm menu involving non-perishables that can be stored like rice, oats and canned goods. Drinks incorporating boiled water such as tea and camp coffee is low-cost staples for flavored beverages, but since both are diuretic, drinking bottled water or electrolytes should be encouraged to keep customers well-hydrated. 
Supplies 
In addition to the supplies listed above, use of disposable serving plates, cups and utensils are recommended when restaurants have no access to public water supplies. Single-use gloves, individually wrapped hand wipes, plastic serving utensils, extra can-openers, tarps, plastic table coverings, garbage bags, and safe light sources should all be in your restaurant emergency kit as well. 
Work with your local emergency management team to find out if your business can qualify as a shelter or community service location; this could provide you with a source of government funding to maintain readiness in the event of an emergency. 
Private investors with property in the area may also have a vested interest in helping your business remains an active hub in the center of disaster recovery operations. Advance preparation is the key, especially in island locations where supplies and equipment can take months to be shipped and processed through local customs.

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