An important part in preparing cultural heritage assets for any kind of emergency is the identification of suitable storage rooms for movable heritage items that need to be removed before or during a disastrous event.
Possible storage rooms should be identified in the process of preparing the emergency plan.
They can be either on-site, i.e. in a different part of the building, on a different floor of the building, or they can be off-site. The geographical location and distance are likely to depend on the risks you have assessed for your assets.
Identifying storage rooms in advance gives you the chance to find rooms that follow the main criteria necessary for correctly storing your movable heritage items.
It is a good idea to involve specialists for the objects and materials in question and experts in preventive conservation in the process.
Ideally, you get the chance to test the identified storage rooms in an exercise together with emergency responders before you need them in a hot scenario. Part of the training should also be dedicated to triage of differently affected materials brought into the safe storage room.
Triage and inventories
If you must bring movable cultural heritage items to the storage rooms during or immediately after a calamitous event, some items you bring in might have been affected, for example by water. In that case it is necessary to do a triage on the items, meaning you make sure that you do not put wet objects together with dry objects in the storage room, but find a specific place for the wet items.
Anything that is brought into the storage room should be inventoried.
A basic inventory could include a brief description of the object, its state of preservation, its place of origin and a unique identification number. With that, you always know what you have in your storage room and can find objects again.