Threats and Priorities

One of the first steps in the creation of your emergency plan is to identify the various threats that could potentially occur at your institution. These threats could range from minor (such as illness in a gallery), to moderate (a broken water pipe in your collections area), to catastrophic (a hurricane affects your entire community). Also, when presented with an emergency situation, an institution’s first priority must be the health and safety of its staff, volunteers, patrons, and visitors. Once their safety has been confirmed, staff can turn their attention to collections and other objects. Items that are important to the institution, either for monetary or historical reasons, should be identified before an emergency takes place. This means you will need to prioritize which objects to rescue first and list them, in order, in your emergency plan. 


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Discussion Questions

  • Threats-Many different hazards and threats were discussed in the Threats webinar. Some of the hazards and threats were large scale (hurricanes, wildfires), while others were considered small and localized (flooding, burst pipes). What kind of hazards and threats have you identified for your emergency plan? Why were these hazards or threats picked over other potential threats? 
  • Priorities-An assessment of your institution’s holdings is an important tool in the development of your emergency plan. Besides giving you an overall scope of what your institution has in its collection, it will also assist you in the creation of your priority criteria. These criteria can include items that have a high value or items that can be damaged the most during a disaster. What other considerations will you take into account while creating your priority list?



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Online Resources
American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), An Ounce of Prevention – Worth MORE than a Pound (security system)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Declared Disasters by State

American Institute of Conservation (AIC), Heritage Emergency Program, Risk Evaluation and Planning Program

National Park Service (NPS), Museum Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections, Ch. 10c-f: Emergency Planning
See Part D.  Prioritization of Museum Collections for Salvage

Northeast Document Conservation Center, Preservation Leaflets, Considerations for Prioritizing


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