Emergency Supply Kits

A supply guide for emergency supply kits.

Until an actual emergency, it can be difficult to determine how many supplies to have on hand. Based on the size and type of the collection, institutions should have enough supplies to fully handle a smaller emergency or to last the first 24 hours of a larger disaster until more supplies can be shipped. Most emergencies cultural institutions face are minor—typically affecting fewer than 250 volumes or 150 cubic feet of records. These emergencies include events like roof leaks, broken water lines, burst pipes, or backed-up floor drains.

Supplies dedicated for emergency response should be kept on-site in centralized locations and refreshed as necessary (annually, or after an emergency when supplies are used). A staff member should be assigned to this task, and record their activity. It is best to have designated emergency supplies, but some items, such as a wet-dry vacuum, will have to be used in non-disaster times as well. Keep track of where these items are stored. Some items will need to be supplied by a vendor under a contract, such as a generator or rental port-o-potties.

It is best to store supplies in a sealed, waterproof container. A large garbage can is a good option. Wrap the containers in thin, clingy plastic wrap. This way, it will be difficult to “borrow” supplies from the emergency supply kits, but it will be easy to break through in the event of an emergency without needing to locate scissors or a blade. It is important that the supply containers are sealed so that the recovery cache is protected from moisture, as most emergencies do involve some source of water. Keep kits near storage rooms and exhibition spaces; there should be a kit in close proximity to any location where collections are used and/or stored.

Pre-made kits are available. However, kits made in-house are usually more cost-effective, comprehensive, and personalized to the collection. Open the PDF below for a list of supplies.