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Your disaster plan will also need to record the immediate steps to care for your archives after an emergency.

  • There are four key activities for the salvage of damaged objects:
  • Salvage- rescue the material as quickly as possible.
  • Sorting - an allocated space will be needed for this task.
  • Treatment - such as air drying.
  • Stabilising/packaging for freezing - for items that are thoroughly wet and cannot be air dried immediately.

Remember that different materials will need different actions.

Salvage actions

  • Deal with the incident and liaise with emergency services if needed.
  • Call your emergency contacts for assistance.
  • Carry out an initial damage assessment and take photographs of the incident.
  • Assess your priorities for salvage.
  • Set up an alternative storage area if needed.
  • Begin initial treatment.
  • Document and remove collections to an alternative site if required.

In the aftermath of a fire:

  • Prioritise wet items initially. When all wet items have been salvaged, attention can turn to smoke and fire damage.
  • Ensure all fragments are gathered and kept with the object.
  • Get advice from a conservator over treatment options. Smoke residues can be removed through careful cleaning, but advice should be sought for this.

In the aftermath of flooding:

  • Any material which is in boxes, drawers or an enclosure should be checked immediately - it may be that the contents are not wet. If so, remove these into a new box or temporary crate, together with the original box label.
  • Do not attempt to separate sodden clumps of documents
  • Place documents face up, flat and on blotting paper to dry
  • Keep books as you found them - whether open or shut
  • Ventilate items to dry. Assess whether any items need freezing if they are too wet to be air dried immediately.
  • Do not allow photos to dry in contact with another surface - lay loose photographs flat, and face-up. Fan out albums to air dry upright.

Emergency Kit

It's a good idea to put together an 'emergency kit' of equipment and materials that would be useful if an emergency happens. This will allow you to be more prepared and reduce the risk of damage to your collections. View a copy of the Norfolk Record Office's emergency kit list. Please note you will not need to purchase all of this yourself! Just assemble what you can with the budget and resources you have available.  

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