Preparing Your Institution for Hurricane Irene

(from a recent post to the METRO-l listserv by Barbara Lilley in the Division of Library Development

The Heritage Emergency National Task Force offers the following advice to museums, libraries, archives, and historical societies for protecting collections and records from wind and water damage.

Here are some basic precautions to take if there is time and you can undertake them safely. These are excerpted from the Emergency Response & Salvage Wheel (© 1997, Heritage Preservation):
  1. Move vital records and high priority items away from windows and below-ground storage into water-resistant areas. Avoid areas under roofs.
  2. Screw plywood over windows or use tape to reduce shattering.
  3. Verify location and procedures for shutting off water, gas, and electricity.
  4. Wrap shelves, cabinets, other storage units in heavy plastic sealed with waterproof tape.
  5. Move outdoor objects indoors or secure in place.
  6. Take with you lists of staff, institutional and public officials, insurance and financial data, inventory, emergency plan and supplies.
  7. Make preliminary contact with service providers for generators, freezers, drying or freeze-drying services, and refrigerated trucking.
  8. Appoint a staff contact to give instructions on returning to work.

We hope you are not in the path of this terrible storm. But in light of Irene's potential for destruction, you should be asking:
  1. Have we established a telephone tree for staff contacts?
  2. Do we know the first responders in our community?
  3. Is our disaster plan up to date? Our insurance coverage? Our inventory?
  4. Have we established priorities for salvaging our collections?
  5. Do we have contacts at salvage firms? Have we stocked emergency supplies?
  6. Do we know what preservation resources are available in our area?
Since 1995, the Heritage Emergency National Task Force has been working to help cultural institutions safeguard their collections. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Heritage Preservation, Inc., the Task Force is a partnership of 34 national organizations and federal agencies. For more hurricane resources, please
Jason Kucsma
Author: Jason Kucsma
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