What is a disaster kit and why is it important? The purpose of a disaster kit (or emergency kit) is to have supplies and safety equipment on hand to contain a disaster at your institution. Disaster kits are important because they allow staff to respond to emergencies quickly and safely without relying on facility management staff or a trip to the hardware store for supplies. A quick response may inhibit the emergency from escalating or contain the disaster until more help or supplies arrive.
What should you include in your kit? Supplies that would help you to respond immediately to an emergency, such as absorbent socks or polyethylene sheeting for leaks, supplies that would help you address damaged records, such as blotting paper or acid-free paper for interleaving, and personal protective safety equipment, such as gloves and hardhats. A copy of your disaster plan should also be available in your kit for quick reference. ASA has a list of suggested supplies to include in you kit on our website: http://archivesalberta.org/doc/Disaster_Response_KitNEW.pdf
How should you store your kit? It is beneficial to store all of your disaster supplies in one location for ease of use. You should ensure the container for your kit is portable and not too heavy (consider a container with wheels). Place frequently used materials near the top of your kit for easy access. It is also important to store the kit in an easily accessible area or near problematic areas in your facility, such as a leaky heater, to speed up response times.
How do you secure your kit? A container full of supplies is a treasure trove for archivists and conservators alike. Although it may be tempting to use these supplies and equipment, you may use up supplies needed if an emergency occurs. It is beneficial to seal the emergency kit and include a list of supplies within the kit on the outside of the container. If the seal is broken, a designated staff member is responsible for replenishing any missing stock. This method secures the kit and guarantees supplies are available in case of an emergency.
A disaster kit can be an expensive investment; however, it ensures there are basic supplies and safety equipment available to address emergencies that may impact your institution and collection.