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How to Prevent Fires in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 24, 2019
Follow these tips to prevent restaurant firesOpen flames, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, and paper products are the perfect ingredients for a fire, and all are found in most restaurants. So, it’s no surprise that fire companies respond to more than 8,000 structure fires at restaurants and bars each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A fire in your restaurant can cause lost revenues, injuries, death, higher restaurant insurance premiums, lawsuits, and even the end of your business, which is why it’s essential that you and your staff understand fire risks and do everything possible to prevent fires.

The right insurance can help pay for damages caused by a fire, but preventing fires should always be your first line of defense.

The Main Fire Risks in Restaurants

Cooking

It’s no surprise that cooking is the leading cause of restaurant fires, accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires according to the US Fire Administration (USFA). When flames get into the kitchen’s ductwork, exhaust systems, vents, and fans – all of which are prone to grease buildup – fire can quickly spread.

Heating and Electrical Malfunction

The deadliest restaurant fire in US history was at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Nevada in 1980. A result of an electrical ground fault, the fire killed 85 people. According to the USFA, seven percent of all restaurant fires are caused by heating and electrical malfunctions.

Unsafe wiring, switches, plugs, or sockets projecting heat onto a flammable or combustible material cause these fires. Often, outdated wiring is not able to handle the voltage used by today’s appliances. Commercial kitchen equipment is certified by NSF International; however, most smaller equipment purchased at retail stores is not certified and can be a hazard when used in commercial kitchens.

Gas leaks and the resulting explosions are often the most devastating fires. Thankfully, this type of occurrence is uncommon but can occur when older or neglected equipment isn’t able to support the flow of gas. Gas is released into the air and can be ignited by turning on an electrical device or lighting a match.

Other Fire Risks

Other causes of restaurant fires include unintentional, careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), other heat (3 percent), and several other categories, according to the USFA reports.

4 Restaurant Fire Prevention Tips


1 - Employee Training

  • Your workers should be trained in fire prevention methods and the importance of proper cleaning.
  • Workers should know not to use water to try to put out a grease fire because it can cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire.
  • Employees should be trained on how to use a fire extinguisher. The National Restaurant Association suggests using the acronym PAST – pull out the Pin, Aim at the base, make a Sweeping motion, and be Ten feet away.
  • Employees should know how to properly store flammable liquids – kept in original containers or puncture-resistant tightly sealed containers stored in well-ventilated areas.

2 - Regular Maintenance

  • Fire-suppression systems should be professionally inspected twice a year.
  • The pressure gauge on portable fire extinguishers should be checked monthly to be sure that the extinguisher is holding pressure and inspected and certified annually.
  • Electrical equipment should have regular maintenance and regularly checked for frayed cords and cracked or broken switch plates.
  • Exhaust systems should be inspected for grease buildup. In high-volume operations, the NFPA requires quarterly inspections and semi-annual inspections for moderate-volume operations.

3 - Installation of an Automatic Fire-Suppression System

Fire-suppression systems, which are built into stoves or oven hoods, have sensors that can detect a fire and automatically release a chemical to put out a fire and shut down the fuel or electric supply to cooking equipment. Installing a fire suppression system can sometimes lower your insurance premiums.

4 - Portable Fire Extinguishers

You should also keep portable fire extinguishers handy as a backup. Class K extinguishers are used for kitchen fires that involve grease, fats, and oils that burn at a high temperature. Class ABC extinguishers can be used on all other fires such as paper, wood, electrical, etc.

Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Understanding fire risks in your restaurant and taking steps to prevent them will help keep your employees, your customers, and your business safe.

Get the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant, Bar or Nightclub

Contact us for the best PA restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Berks County and elsewhere!If these measures fail, having the right insurance can help repair the damage.

But don’t overpay for restaurant insurance. Give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. We’ll search competing insurance companies to find affordable restaurant insurance that will properly protect your business.

Don’t delay – call the experts at American Insuring Group today!

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

6 Knife Safety Tips for Restaurant Owners

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 07, 2018

Follow these knife safety tips to lower your restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia, Reading, Lehigh Valley, PA and beyond.One of the best ways to reduce restaurant insurance costs is to improve workplace safety – especially in the kitchen.

Since cuts and lacerations are one of the most common injuries found in restaurant kitchens, it just makes sense to enforce knife-handling safety. It could take a considerable chunk out of your insurance costs and create a healthier and more productive work environment to boot!

Here are Six Knife-Handling Safety Tips:

1 - Always Use a Sharp Knife

Keeping your knives sharp is one of the easiest ways to make them safer. A dull knife forces you to apply more force, which is more likely to cause a slip and increase the risk of injury. Use a sharpening stone or knife sharpener to maintain the original sharpness of the blade.

Most knife blades are designed with a 20-degree angle on each side. If many of the ingredients you’re cutting are harder, this is perfect, but if most of your ingredients are softer, you may want to sharpen your knife to a 15-degree angle on both sides. 

2 - Use the Right Knife

Knives come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. You have your chef’s knife, your paring knife, your bread knife, your cleaver, etc. Each is made for a different type of task. When choosing the best knife for a job, consider the size of the blade and what you are cutting and the type of blade edge – serrated, etc. Here’s an in-depth guide for choosing the best knife for the job.

And remember to treat your knives well. They are not made for opening cans or boxes; they are made to cut food. Using them for other tasks can quickly damage your blade making it dull and unsafe.

3 - Know How to Cut With a Knife

Always use a cutting board to protect your hands and your knives and to allow you to cut consistently. Knowing how to grip the knife and how to hold the food you’re cutting is also important. There are two basic ways to hold a knife – the handle grip and the blade grip. The food you’re cutting should be placed on a cutting board on a stable, flat surface. Protect your fingertips by curling them inward, using your knuckles to guide your knife.

4 - Be Alert

Commercial kitchens can be hectic places, but pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re holding a sharp knife. Even a moment’s distraction can cause an accident and an injury.

5 - Store Knifes Correctly

Every knife should have a specific storage space – NOT in a drawer – where it is kept when not in use. A knife block or roll will not only help protect your employees but also keep knives easily accessible and protected, so they will last longer. Don’t leave knives laying on the counter between uses. They can easily get knocked off and cause an injury.

6 - Keep Knives Clean

Do not leave your knife on a cutting board or in a sink full of soapy water. Immediately washing your knife and returning it to its designated storage space will help keep your employees safe and prevent contamination keeping your customers safe.

Safety Training Pays in More Ways Than One! 

It’s essential that restaurant employees are adequately trained on knife safety and that you make it clear to everyone that safety is a priority in your restaurant. So remember to follow these knife safety tips to protect your employees, reduce accidents, and lower your restaurant insurance costs.

Save On Restaurant Insurance - Contact Us Today! 

Your Trusted Choice Independent Restaurant Insurance AgentsAnother way to take a bite out of restaurant insurance costs is to work with an independent insurance agency like American Insuring Group.

Not only do we have agents who specialize in restaurant insurance who make sure that you get the right insurance for your individual needs, but we are also insurance brokers, so we compare costs among many competing insurance companies to find you the best price for that insurance!

High quality insurance protection for your restaurant at a great price - now that's a real win-win for your business! So give American Insuring Group a call at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 to speak with one of our restaurant insurance specialists, or contact us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Safer Kitchens = Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs. Here's How.

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 09, 2018

For more information on steps you can take to lower your PA restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Allentown and beyond, contact us.Restaurant kitchens are notorious for having open flames, sharp equipment, fast-paced work environments, tight spaces, and many other safety risks.

If you can make your restaurant a safer place for your employees, you'll create happier and more productive employees and lower your restaurant insurance costs at the same time. It's that simple.

But, as we know, simple doesn't always mean easy! 

Here are Five Steps Restaurant Owners Can Take to Improve Safety and Lower Insurance Costs

#1 - Teach Restaurant Safety Procedures

Unfortunately, restaurants often experience high employee turnover so too often new employee training consists of "here's what we serve" and "here's where we keep X, Y, and Z." Just a few minutes of safety training can go a long way to a safer restaurant and fewer injuries, and the more extensive the training, the better results you'll see. New employees should be taught basic food safety practices, common hazards (falls, burns, cuts, etc.) and how to avoid them, and how to safely operate equipment.

#2 - Operate Restaurant Equipment Safely

It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when it comes to operating restaurant equipment safely. General guidelines for equipment safety include the following:

  • Make sure equipment is turned off before plugging it in or starting it
  • Use safety guards where appropriate
  • Check for frayed cords and loose parts before use
  • Plug appliances directly into an outlet
  • Keep equipment clean between uses

#3 - Practice Fire Prevention

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are approximately 7,410 structure fires in restaurants every year resulting in about three deaths, 110 injuries, and $165 million in property damage. Cooking equipment caused three out of five of those fires. Deep fryers were involved in 21% of those fires and ranges or cooktops were involved in 14% of those fires.

Failure to clean was a factor in 22% of the fires. That's worth repeating… failure to clean was a factor in nearly one-quarter of those fires. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to avoid many fires in a kitchen is to keep your equipment clean. You also want to make sure that kitchen staff stays attentive to cooking dishes. This is where proper safety training comes in.

Employees should know how to put out a grease fire, how to use a fire extinguisher, and how to turn off gas and electrical power in the event of an emergency. An evacuation plan should be posted, and all employees should be familiar with it.

Here are other fire safety guidelines:
• Have multiple fire extinguishers at your restaurant (not just in the kitchen)
• Have exit signs and emergency lights installed
• Install fire suppression systems

#4 - Know the Most Common Injuries in Restaurants

Common injuries in restaurants include burns, cuts and punctures, sprains and strains, and eye injuries. All employees should be trained on how to avoid these injuries and what to do if they occur.

#5 - Provide Safety Equipment

Create a safe working environment with slip-resistant mats, wet floor signs, exhaust fans, thermostats, fire extinguishers, fire and smoke detectors.

Where appropriate provide employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and require that they are worn. Examples of PPE include dishwashing gloves, cut-resistant gloves, freezer gloves, oven mitts, aprons, anti-slip shoes, and back support belts.

Creating a safe environment in your restaurant isn't just good for your employees, your customers, and your vendors, it's also good for your bottom line!

Here’s How to Save Even More on Restaurant Insurance

If you want to learn more about saving money on restaurant insurance, give one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Not only does American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance to ensure that your business is adequately protected, but we also compare pricing with competing insurance companies to make sure you get the best price.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs