Emergency Plans for Natural Disasters in the Hospitality Industry

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Emergency Plans for Natural Disasters in the Hospitality Industry

Preventative Measures and Emergency Plans for Natural Disasters in the Hospitality Industry

Introduction

In the recent past, many countries around the world including the USA have witnessed devastating natural disasters like the tornados, severe windstorms, tsunami, hurricanes and catastrophic floods. These disasters have caused  loss of live and damage of properties in the various places that they have making both small and large business fail to recoup from their losses. The losses in the hospitality industry have also been huge. The damage and risk assessment specialists have suggested that the preventive measures when implemented in hotels and other hospitality places will be able to significantly reduce not only the cost of claim form the insurance but also will  shorten the length of recovery time. This is important because the natural disaster spare very view places (FEMA 2006).

Disaster Risk of Hospitality industry

The tourism industry attracts a very sizable number of tourist populations especially in the peak season when the influx of the people seeking vocations can even triple the population of the residents. For instance, some tourist destination like the Myrtle Beach of South Carolina, the population has been found to increase from the normal resident population of 25,000 people to more that 300,000 people during the winter season. Such increase in the number of people in one location can pose immense challenges to the emergency managers.  Especially the coast areas are made even more vulnerable to the occurrences of the natural disasters. The tourist  are found to be even more vulnerable because they are unfamiliar with the geography of the area including the evacuation  routes and are not likely to be observing the local communication outlets like radios, news papers and televisions. The high staff turn over in the hotel industry is also another factor that the industry players have to deal with, this is because fit reduces the institutions preparedness for the disasters (Ayers, Saint, & Gross, 2009).

It is therefore important that some measures are put in place to help especially the newcomers in an area, who are more vulnerable to disasters to reduce the number of causalities in when the disasters do happen.

Some of the measures to help the hospitality industry be better prepared to deal with disaster when it strikes. The strategies that the emergency managers can use include developing training packages for the employees in the industry and coming up with detailed emergency plans that have very defined responsibilities for all the people concerned (Federal Emergency Management Agency. 1992).

Developing the emergency plan

It is the duty of the emergency managers in the service industry to coordinate the planning and response efforts to be implemented when an emergency strikes. One of the advantages of engaging in advance planning is because it makes it easier for everybody involved to as manage the emergency situation. Some of the plans that can be developed for reduction of the vulnerability of the tourists and the customers of the hospitality industry in general include ensuring that the communities that receive large number of tourist and new comers have included these elements in the emergency planning mechanism (Robert, 2007). This may include establishing a crisis management center to guide the evacuation of tourists. The center should be based on the high grounds and be on buildings that can sustain the strong wind force of hurricane. It is also important that there are proper channels of communicating to the government and the Hotel managers on the state of the evacuation routes. Flexibility of the emergency plan is what enables it work for the different types of the disasters affecting the Hospitality industry. It is therefore imperative that the emergency plan is able to deal with the different elements of earth for instance and also help the industry effectively respond to chemical spill or tornadoes.

Preparedness mechanisms for natural disaster

The hospitality industry players have a role in ensuring that the customers using the services are safe in cases of disaster and emergency situations. It is therefore necessary that each and every Hotel in the sector develop its own emergency plan for responding to disaster.  Even though the hotels are competing entities, they should be ready to the disaster planning efforts in their area of operations. This is important and helpful if w the hotel buildings are close to one another and it is possible to share food and other resources that may be affected during emergencies (Disaster Mitigation Act, 2000).

So as to prevent the disaster from causing a lot of harm and injury, the hotels should train the service employees on how to accommodate the guests in emergency situations. These training should be at the time of hire and recruitment since the industry has such a high turn over. Refresher trainings then should be offered at intervals on the use of various tools and methods to ensure the safety of the guests and the property of the hotel. Nit is important also for the industry to invest in communication equipment that can be effectively used to reach all the people especially when the phone system is disabled. In this case, CB radio can be a very reliable option for communication in cases of disasters. This will include having a clear method of communication so that the staff and the guest are all informed of what is going on (Disaster Research Center, 2002).

Coordination centers

For effectiveness of the hospitality industry players responding to the occurrence of natural disaster, an organization should be established to that is responsible for making all the decisions that will safe both life and property. This organization will be more effective if the Emergency coordinator is supported by the senior working staff of the Hotel that has authority to support the decisions. In addition, the organization will take the responsibility of establishing a check list that will guide the operation of evacuation and recovery when it begins in Ernest. The checklist will help in navigating an emergency situation since the process of relying on memory can fail. This is because human will tend to forget important fact especially when encountered by stress (FEMA 2006).

Planning for response

The places   that have been selected to be used as shelter should be in high places. The communities in those areas should be prepared to accommodate large number of tourists and other hotel guest that were in the area. It is important also that the emergency team should be prepared to deal with increased number of guest and as such, more shelters should be opened during the peak seasons (Mississippi Coastal Improvement Plan, 2005). One of the ways in which the emergency team can reduce congestion in the process of evacuation is by staggering the population. The employees of the hotels should be trained fin the way they release the information to the guest when the threat of natural disaster is imminent. This is because it is important that the guests and tourist who are informed about the imminent threat do not downplay the danger by delaying in the danger zones. They should be made to appreciate the gravity of the situation and take immediate actions by moving to higher and safer grounds. This process is helped by the hotel management using the available communication channels issue timely and multi lingual information to the guest explaining the latest information as provided by the National weather (Service Ayers, Saint, & Gross, 2009). Depending on the information available, people can be provided with options of moving to higher ground shelter or evacuate completely. This is important in preventing the harm or loss of the life since the airplane service may be unreliable to evacuate people at the last minute. It has also been indicated that people generally avoid using the shelters because they are difficult to find in a crisis situation, couple d with the fear that the shelter may be unsafe due to overcrowding (Virtual Forum Panel Discussion. 1999).   The industry should therefore take initiatives of encouraging use of emergency shelters by either assisting the guests to find the shelter locations and ensure that the shelters have sufficient capacity not to overcrowd.

References

Disaster Mitigation Act ( 2000 )implementing regulations set forth in Interim Final Rule    published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2002 (44 CFR 201.6).

Disaster Research Center (2002).  “Disaster Resistant Communities Initiative: Assessment of        Ten Non-Pilot Communities.” The University of Delaware. Project #EMW-97-CA-0519. Report             to EMA. August 30.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (1992).The Federal Response Plan, FEMA-229.             Washington, DC: FEMA,

FEMA (2006), Mitigation Assessment Team Report Hurricane Katrina on in the Gulf Coast

Gross, Ayers, & Saint, (2009) City of Long Beach Comprehensive Plan and Background Report,

Law 93-288, as amended.

Mississippi Coastal Improvement Plan, (2005), Department of Defense, Appropriation Act (PL    109-148)

Robert , T., (2007) Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public

Virtual Forum Panel Discussion (1999). “Project Impact Revisited.” Participants: Larry Deetjen, City Manager, Deerfield Beach, FL, Renee Domingo, Oakland, CA, Dave Jones, NBC4. Washington, DC. February 17.

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