Disaster Planning - Advance Preparation

Disaster may come via wind, fire, flood, broken pipes, or even locusts, but almost always includes water in some form.  Basic preparation demands an emergency plan,  collections catalog backup off site, and advance meetings with local first responders.   If possible, equip your vehicle's trunk for quick response by carrying the museum's disaster response plan, list of contact phone numbers, and basic equipment:  head lamp, gloves, heavy boots, camera, face mask.

Photo courtesy of the Cedar Falls Historical Society.  The Ice House Museum, Cedar River flood of 2008.

Advance Preparation Resources:
A variety of resources are available from AIC (American Insitute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.)

The Field Guide to Emergency Response: A vital tool for cultural institutions . This spiral bound handbook explains initial steps to take, essential response functions, and conditions you are likely to encounter. Available for purchase here.


Preservation Iowa


The Minnesota Historical Society has posted emergency salvage procedures.

The Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium has tip sheets available and provides the "Iowa Museums, Archives, and Libraries Emergency Response Team" (IMALERT) which provides a hotline service (IMALERT Hotline 319-384-3673 or e-mail: iowa.conserveandpreserve@gmail.com) to cultural institutions experiencing an emergency or disaster. The IMALERT Hotline can connect staff with the information and expertise needed to respond to, and recover from any level of incident from a leaking pipe to a major flood.  IMALERT will coordinate with first responders, state and local agencies, and vendors to provide disaster assistance to affected institutions and their collections. Through the team’s vast experience in conservation, preservation and emergency response and recovery, help is available to:

- assess damage to collection materials
- make recommendations for recovery
- assist with decision making on drying out buildings
- demonstrate salvage techniques and/or help organize the initial salvage operation

IIMALERT is an initiative of the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium 


American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has a 24 hours hotline at 202.661.8068 for free advice by phone.

Regional Alliance for Preservation is available at 1-800-843-8492