Friday 1 May 2015

MayDay 2015: Disaster Preparedness

May 1st is "MayDay," when archivists and cultural heritage professionals take personal and professional responsibility for doing something simple that can have a significant impact on a repository’s ability to respond to a disaster.

After a series of emergency situations in the United States, starting with Hurricane Katrina, a heritage assessment of historical repositories was conducted. The report found that few institutions have an up-to-date disaster plan, if they have one at all. In response to these findings, MayDay was initiated and is heavily promoted by the Society of American Archivists.

To participate in MayDay this year, we updated the emergency contacts list in our Disaster Contingency Plan. We then made business cards listing emergency contact phone numbers for each of the staff to keep in their wallets.

Lastly, we took stock of our Disaster Supply Kit and beefed up our stores to include: coveralls, hard hats, rubber shoe covers, rubber gloves, back support belts and headlamps (as modeled by our Director, Marc Lerman):

ARCAT Staff photo

Our model is all geared up in coveralls, hard hat, rubber shoe covers, rubber gloves, back support belt, headlamp, safety googles and dust mask. He is carrying a walkie-talkie with a functioning battery, as well as an up-do-date copy of the ARCAT Disaster Contingency Plan.

To the right, inside our storeroom, are duplicate hard copies of all of our findings aids.  If something happens to one set, or to our descriptive database, we'll have a back-up.
ARCAT Staff photo

Headlamps are especially useful during a power failure, when you need both hands free.

ARCAT Staff photo

Our Disaster Supply Store, kept in a watertight garbage bin.
ARCAT Staff photo

And thankfully, these rubber dress shoe covers allow you to salvage in style!

If you find yourself wondering what natural disaster could possibly befall Toronto, don't forget:
  • 1834 Cholera Epidemic
  • 1847 Typhus Epidemic
  • 1849 Great Fire
  • 1904 Great Fire
  • 1954 Hurricane Hazel
  • 1998 Ice Storm
  • 2002-03 SARS
  • 2008 Flood
  • 2010 Earthquake (5.0-magnitude)
  • 2013 Ice Storm
  • 2013 Flood
Happy Prepping!

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