Emergencies and disasters pose various threats to collections and family heirlooms, but damage from water exposure is arguably the most common. There are immediate response actions that can be taken to save affected materials and prevent further damage. Later, there are recovery actions that can be taken to address the damages sustained by affected materials.
The general response recommendations below are based on good practice in libraries, archives, museums, and other collections-holding institutions. Institutions may find that these recommendations are superseded by specific institutional requirements or the instructions of on-site conservators and preservation managers. Because human life and safety are paramount, these recommendations may be superseded by the instructions of civil defense or other emergency responders as well.
Additional disaster-specific information for collections:
- A Primer on Disaster Preparedness, Management and Response: Paper-Based Materials, a collaboration of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Park Service
- Mould Outbreak — An Immediate Response by the Canadian Conservation Institute (available in English and French)
Disaster-specific information for for life safety:
- Preparedness Fast Facts: Emergency-Specific Preparedness Information by the American Red Cross (available in English, Spanish, and other languages)
- Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness by the Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Natural Disasters & Severe Weather: Health & Safety Concerns and Information for Specific Groups by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
A complete response means all active threats to collections and family heirlooms (e.g., fire, wetness, growing mold) have been eliminated. Now there is time to consider addressing the damages sustained by affected materials, if necessary or desirable.
The list of other organizations under Additional Resources includes regional conservation centers that provide conservation services.