Are you prepared ?

As summer rapidly approaches, the risk of damaging storms and bush fires greatly increase. So now is the time to ensure your organisation is disaster ready.

Check your buildings for any potential problems externally such as blocked gutters, damaged drains and roofing. Also check for possible risks internally such sources of moisture including damaged air conditioning and water pipes, areas of poor air circulation, crowded, poorly packed shelves etc. A large mould outbreak or insect infestation are also disasters !

Do you have a disaster preparedness plan?

If you don’t, now is the time to develop one. If you are unsure how to proceed, you can receive assistance from your local Museum Development Officer or contact the Australian Institute of Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) https://aiccm.org.au/disaster

The following websites may also be helpful:

If you already have a disaster preparedness plan make sure it is current.

It is important to review your plan on an annual basis and update it as needed. Listed below are some areas that require regular review:

  • Significant items:
    • Check the list of high priority collection items. These are the objects that will be retrieved first in a disaster situation. These normally include unique and/or historically significant items.
    • Have there been any new acquisitions or donations that need to be added? Have you deaccessioned any items currently on the list ?
    • Are collection items still in the same locations or have they been moved? Update location details and floor plans. It is very important to be able to quickly locate significant collections for quick retrieval. Many organisations mark the shelving where high priority objects are located to assist in the location process.
  • The disaster team:
    • Check phone numbers for the disaster team are current.
    • Are people still willing and able to participate? If not, it is time to recruit new volunteers.
    • Who will lead the team?
    • Ensure all team members are familiar with the Disaster Plan and the salvage procedures for the collections.
  • Extra assistance:
    • If you require external assistance and have made arrangements in the past (e.g. priority access to the local cold storage facility to freeze water damaged collections), check that these arrangements are still possible. A written agreement may be helpful.
    • Organise new arrangements if needed.
  • Water damaged collections awaiting freezing. Ipswich flood, 2011.

    Water damaged collections carefully packed and waiting to be delivered to a cold storage facility to be frozen. Ipswich flood, 2011.

  • Disaster kits:
    • Carry out an inventory on your disaster kits and restock if necessary. Ensure the kits are stocked with materials and equipment appropriate to your greatest disaster risks (e.g. flooding or water leaks).
  • Disaster training
    • Organise training on use of the disaster plan and salvage procedures for members of the disaster team. Ideally this should be done annually.
    • If you require assistance with training, please contact your local Museum Development Officer or AICCM.
Air drying flood damaged photographs. Gayndah Museum, 2013.

Air drying flood damaged photographs. Gayndah Museum, 2013.

So as the old saying goes “forewarned is forearmed”. Fingers crossed this summer will be disaster free and your disaster plans remain untested!

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About Lydia Egunnike

Museum Development Officer - Southern Inland QLD, Queensland Museum Network

Posted on 12 September 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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