Why do hosts and hostesses need emergency management skills?

Having emergency preparedness and crisis management skills doesn't mean you need to be an expert in every disaster scenario; however, including these key skills and certifications on your resume will make you stand out as a qualified candidate.

When applying for a host or hostess position, it's easy for applicants to highlight their amiable personalities or their previous customer service experience. But what about emergency preparedness and crisis management? Including this knowledge and experience on your resume demonstrates to potential employers that you'd thought through all of the possibilities of what could happen while you're on the job—not just greeting customers and showing them to their tables.

Because hosts and hostesses are some of the most visible restaurant employees when it comes to interacting with customers, managers will feel better knowing they're in capable hands when disaster strikes.

Fire Safety

Though restaurant fires are becoming increasingly rare, it's imperative for hosts and hostesses to understand how to keep customers calm and evacuate them in case of a fire. Though you'll probably be trained by your restaurant, understanding proper fire safety practices (as recommended by the National Restaurant Association) is a great way to show your employers that you've already taken initiative to educate yourself.

While most restaurant fires start in the kitchen, the abundance of flammable materials throughout a restaurant means there are many ways for things to catch fire. Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire, for example, can really shine on an application for a host or hostess position. And fire prevention is just as important: knowledge of fire codes as well as how to reduce the risk of fire by mitigating or eliminating hazards are desirable skills to demonstrate to prospective employers. And in the worst case scenario of evacuation due to fire, knowing how to handle a frightened, panicked crowd and direct them to the nearest escape route is incredibly important.

Emergencies Involving Customers

Working in a restaurant, there's always a risk of customers experiencing allergic reactions or accidentally choking. As a host or hostess, you'll be interacting with and observing almost all of the customers in a restaurant at any given time; because of this position, having experience with or being certified in CPR or other emergency procedures (e.g., the Heimlich maneuver, using an AED, etc.) can potentially save a person's life by keeping them alive until emergency responders arrive on the scene.

According to the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival, very rarely will bystanders—in this case, other customers in the restaurant—intervene to perform CPR or other emergency procedures, and many will not know how. As a host or hostess, knowing how to perform CPR or the Heimlich maneuver in case of emergency could mean the difference between life and death. Taking the time to complete a class in these procedures demonstrates to employers that your first priority is the safety and well-being of their customers.

Knowing basic first aid and understanding the importance of having a well-equipped first aid kit is another useful emergency management skill to put on your resume.

Disaster Preparedness

While the restaurants you're applying to probably already have disaster contingency plans in place (and there's no way to know these without working there), there are still ways to demonstrate your abilities on your resume when it comes to emergency preparedness. Basic safety and preparedness courses will indicate that you're already well-equipped to learn the safety protocols of your new restaurant, and if you have previous experience as a host or hostess, be sure to highlight any emergency preparedness techniques you learned or experience you gained. But even in the absence of prior experience, any activity or job that demonstrates quick thinking, calmness under pressure, and an eye for detail will help you stand out as a qualified applicant.

Knowing emergency and crisis management skills is an important extension of the most basic roles of a host or hostess—customer service and communicating between the kitchen, serving staff, and customers. In other words, emergency preparedness skills are customer service skills, and they'll not only show that you're right for the job, but that customers will be safe in your hands.

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