Preservation

Smithsonian Institution Staff Disaster Preparedness Procedures

prepared by SI Office of Risk Management, October 1992, revised, October 1993

Introduction

This handbook provides a brief overview of the types of disasters posing a potential threat to staff. NOTE: This handbook does not contain emergency procedures for cultural items. These emergency procedures are intended to assist individuals in understanding what to expect and what to do initially. The information in this booklet is provided primarily as guidance in the event a disaster occurs at work. However, these same procedures can be applied to situations at home and when traveling.

Should an emergency occur, evacuation of the facility may be necessary. Evacuation routes for facilities should be displayed throughout staff work areas. All personnel should study these procedures carefully.

Emergency Telephone Numbers...

Staff Evacuation Procedures

When evacuation alarm sounds or you are directed to evacuate the facility:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Shut down all hazardous operations.
  3. Follow instructions.
  4. Assist disabled persons.
  5. Leave the area in an orderly fashion. Close doors, but do not lock.
  6. Follow established evacuation routes.
  7. Move away from the structure. Go directly to the assembly area (map provided with plan). Report to the Evacuation Coordinator for a "head count".
  8. Do not block the street or driveway.
  9. Stay at the assembly area until instructed otherwise.

Assembly Area Locations...

Fire

In case of a fire:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Contact the Fire Department.
  3. If the fire is small, try to extinguish it with the proper type of extinguisher or other method. Do not jeopardize personal safety.
  4. Do not allow the fire to come between you and the exit.
  5. Disconnect electrical equipment if it is on fire and it is safe to do so.
  6. Notify the supervisor and evacuation coordinator, if possible.
  7. Evacuate if you can not extinguish the fire. Assist disabled persons.
  8. Do not break windows.
  9. Do not open a hot door. (Before opening a door, touch it near the top. If it is hot or if smoke is visible, do not open.)
  10. Do not use elevators.
  11. Do not attempt to save possessions.
  12. Go directly to the assembly area
  13. .
  14. Do not return to the affected area until told to by appropriate
  15. authorities.
  16. Do not spread rumors.

Severe Storms

(These first procedures apply to thunderstorms, tornados, hurricanes, etc.)

In the event of a severe storm watch within the surrounding area:

  1. Listen to the local radio/TV or NOAA Weather Radio for instructions.
  2. Plan ahead before the storm arrives.
  3. Tie down loose items located outside or move them indoors.
  4. Open windows slightly, time permitting, on the side away from the direction of the storm's approach.
  5. Check battery-powered equipment and back-up power sources.
  6. Fill vehicles with gas.

In the event of a severe storm warning within the surrounding area:

  1. Disconnect electrical equipment and appliances not required for emergency use.
  2. Do not use telephone except for an emergency or absolutely essential business.
  3. Store drinking water in clean containers (e.g., jugs, bottles, sinks).
  4. Avoid structures with wide span roofs (e.g., gymnasium).
  5. Otherwise, take cover.

Hurricane Warning

  1. Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters or tape. Some should be left slightly open to equalize the pressure.
  2. Leave low-lying areas that may be swept by high tides or storm waves.
  3. Stay in the building if it is sturdy and on high ground. If not - and especially if local authorities order an evacuation - move to a designated shelter.
  4. Remain indoors. Don't be fooled by the calmness of the "eye." Remember, the winds on the other side of the "eye" will come from the opposite direction.
Hurricane Evacuation:
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- If transportation is provided by local authorities, use it
- If you must walk or drive to another location:
- Leave early enough so as not to be marooned,
- If driving, ensure there is sufficient gas,
- Use recommended routes rather than trying to find
shortcuts, and
-Go to a designated location - don't go anywhere else.

Tornado Warning

  1. Go to the basement, if available, or an interior hallway.
  2. Upper floors are unsafe. If there is no time to descend, go to a closet, a small room with strong walls, or an inside hallway.
  3. Do not remain inside a vehicle. As a last resort, and if no ditch or ravine is nearby, crawl under the vehicle.
  4. If in open country and time permits, locate suitable shelter. If not, lie in the nearest ditch or ravine. Be alert for flash floods.

Winter Storm

If a winter storm warning is issued for the area:

1. If at work --
- Listen to the local radio/TV for weather advisories and official permission to go home early.
- Plan ahead before the storm arrives.
- Move indoors any items located outside which might be damaged by the storm or become hazardous during high winds.
- Check all battery-powered equipment and back-up power sources.
- Fill vehicle gas tanks.
- If you must travel (business or going home), use public transportation if possible. If not and you must drive:
- Make sure the vehicle is in good condition, equipped with chains or snow tires, and has a full tank of gas.
- Take another person with you, if possible.
- Leave an estimated itinerary (destination and estimated time of arrival) with someone.
- Have emergency "winter storm supplies" in the vehicle (e.g., sand, shovel, windshield scraper, tow chain or rope, flashlight, flares. It's also good to have a blanket, heavy gloves, overshoes, extra woolen socks, and winter headgear).
- Travel by daylight and use major highways, when possible.
- Keep the radio on for weather information and advice.
- Don't be daring or foolhardy. Rather than risk being stalled, lost, or isolated, stop, turn back or seek help if conditions threaten to test your ability or endurance.
- If the vehicle breaks down, or you become lost, or stalled:
- Don't panic! Think the situation through, and decide the safest and best thing to do. Then do it slowly and carefully.
- If on a well travelled road, indicate you are in trouble (e.g., hazard flashers, raised hood, hanging cloth from radio aerial or window. Then stay in the car and wait for help to arrive. If you run the engine to keep warm, keep snow away from the exhaust pipe and keep a window open enough to provide sufficient ventilation.
- Wherever you are, if there is no house or other source of help in sight, do not leave the car to search for assistance. It is very easy to become disoriented and lost during a severe storm.
2. If at home --
- Listen to the local radio/TV for weather advisories.
- Plan ahead before the storm arrives; prepare for possible isolation for a couple of days. Ensure you have on hand or the proper working condition of:
- Blankets, some kind of emergency heating equipment and adequate supply of fuel
- Food and water, emergency cooking equipment. (It's better to have some foods that do not require cooking or other preparation);
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries, flashlights/lanterns and extra batteries/fuel; and
- Simple tools for fire fighting.
- Move indoors any items located outside which might be damaged by the storm.
- Fill vehicle gas tanks.
- Travel only if absolutely necessary and follow precautions shown above.

Utility Failure

In the event of a power outage in your area:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Remain where you are and open all available blind/shades/curtains to receive more outside light.
  3. If you are in an unlighted area, go cautiously to an area that has emergency lights.
  4. If telephones are working, call and report the outage.
  5. Wait for further instructions from the authorities.
  6. If directed to evacuate, assist disabled persons and go to the Assembly Area.
  7. If you are in an elevator, stay calm. Use the intercom or emergency button to alert Security or other persons.

In the event of a water line/sewer failure:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Notify utility immediately. Advise them of the severity and location of the problem. Indicate if any objects are in imminent danger.
  3. If during work hours, notify your supervisor of the situation.
  4. Use extreme caution if any electrical appliances/outlets are near the water. Inform Security of the electrical hazard.
  5. If the source of the water is known and you are confident you can stop it safely, (i.e., unclog the drain, turn off water), do so cautiously.
  6. Assist with protecting objects.
  7. If directed to evacuate, assist disabled persons and go to the Assembly Area. Wait for further instructions.

Flood

In case of a flood watch in the area:

  1. Listen to local radio/TV.
  2. Prepare to take immediate precautionary actions.
  3. If driving, watch for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low areas due to rain not seen by you, but which may be indicated by thunder and lightning.

In case of a flood warning in the area:

  1. Listen to local radio/TV.
  2. Prepare to evacuate upon direction. (Note: If a flash flood warning is issued, get out of the area immediately.)
  3. Assist disabled persons and follow instructions of emergency preparedness personnel.
  4. Check any battery-powered equipment & back-up power sources.
  5. Store drinking water in clean receptacles (e.g., sinks, jugs).
  6. Inventory and move to the upper floors emergency supplies such as food, first aid items, blankets..
  7. .
  8. Secure all loose objects located outside.
  9. Assist with protecting objects.
  10. 9. Board up windows.
  11. Disconnect utilities which are not absolutely essential.
  12. Fill vehicle gas tank(s).
  13. If driving, know the depth of the water in a dip or low area before crossing.
  14. If vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
  15. Do not try to cross a stream on foot if water is above your knees.
  16. Do not re-enter the affected area until directed by emergency preparedness personnel.
  17. Do not spread rumors.

Hazardous Material Accident

In case of a hazardous material accident at the facility:

  1. Evacuate the immediate area.
  2. Initiate appropriate first aid and/ or other personnel protection measures, as required.
  3. Notify Authorities as soon as possible.
  4. Do not re-enter the affected area until directed by the emergency preparedness personnel.
  5. If trained and properly protected, assist with the clean-up operations, as directed.
  6. Do not spread rumors.

In case of a hazardous materials accident in the local community:

  1. Listen to the local radio/TV.
  2. Follow instructions of the emergency preparedness personnel.
  3. Evacuate when directed. Follow the designated route to the Assembly Area.
  4. Do not re-enter the affected area until directed by emergency preparedness personnel.
  5. Do not spread rumors.

Civil Disorder and Demonstrations

In case of a demonstration or other form of civil disorder within the area:

  1. Notify authorities immediately of any information received, factual or rumored, of a demonstration or other form of civil disorder which is planned or in progress in the vicinity of the facility.
  2. Follow the instructions of building Security and the emergency preparedness personnel.
  3. Assist with protecting objects.
  4. If an explosion occurs, take cover immediately and anticipate there may be others.
  5. Notify Authorities of any potential/actual hazards (e.g., fire, bomb threat) incurred during a threatening situation.
  6. Stay indoors and away from windows unless directed to evacuate by the emergency preparedness personnel.
  7. Evacuate when directed and follow the evacuation procedures included at the beginning of this handbook.
  8. If released from work early, follow instructions of the emergency preparedness personnel and the local authorities.
  9. Do not remain in the vicinity of the disturbance to sightsee.
  10. Do not spread rumors.

Terrorism

Should an act of terrorism occur within the surrounding area:

  1. Fellow the instruction of the Security and emergency preparedness personnel.
  2. If an explosion occurs, take cover immediately and anticipate there may be other explosions.
  3. Notify Authorities of any known hazards (e.g., fire, bomb threat).
  4. Stay indoors and away from windows unless directed to evacuate.
  5. Evacuate when directed and follow procedures included at the beginning of this booklet and any instructions of the Evacuation Coordinators.
  6. If released from work early, follow the instructions of the emergency preparedness personnel.
  7. Do not remain in the vicinity to sightsee.
  8. Do not spread rumors.

Bomb Threat

If you receive a bomb threat telephone call:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Listen carefully. Be polite and show interest.
  3. Try to keep the caller talking to learn more information.
  4. If possible, write a note to a colleague to call the authorities or, as soon as the caller hangs up, immediately notify them yourself.
  5. Complete the attached Bomb Threat Checklist immediately. Write down as much detail as you can remember.
  6. Do not discuss the threat with other staff.
  7. Follow the instructions of the building Security.
  8. Evacuate when directed and follow the procedures included at the beginning of this handbook.
  9. Do not spread rumors.

Explosion

In case of an explosion in your area:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Take cover under a table or desk.
  3. Be prepared for possible further explosions.
  4. Stay away from windows, mirrors, overhead fixtures, filing cabinets, bookcases, etc.
  5. Follow the instructions of the security guards and emergency preparedness personnel.
  6. Evacuate calmly, when directed, to the Assembly Area. Assist disabled persons.
  7. Do not move seriously injured persons, unless they are in immediate danger (fire, building collapse, etc.)
  8. Open doors carefully. Watch for falling objects.
  9. Do not use elevators.
  10. Avoid using the telephone, except in a life threatening situation.
  11. Do not use matches or lighters.
  12. Do not re-enter the affected area until directed by emergency preparedness personnel.
  13. Do not spread rumors.

Major Transportation Accident

Major transportation accidents are those involving any of the various modes of transportation (e.g., highways, waterways, railways, and airways). Such accidents could occur at any time and any place, and often involve multiple injuries and/or deaths.

Many facilities are not prepared (and are not expected to be prepared) to cope with the type of problems created by a major transportation accident. Should such a disaster occur, initiate life-saving and property protection actions until assistance can be provided from the community. For example, security personnel are trained to extinguish small fires and to ensure the safe evacuation of the public. The medical staff and/or persons trained in first aid can attend injured persons. Also, during regular work hours, the staff can implement appropriate measures to protect the collections and other physical assets.

Should a major transportation accident occur, many decisions regarding the appropriate emergency actions to take will have to be made "on-the-spot" based on the situation. For instance, are hazardous materials involved and/or are there casualties? Is there a need to evacuate? Is there damage to the facility itself and/or are the utilities functioning? For the appropriate protective actions to take for a specific hazard (i.e., fire, hazardous materials, explosions, utility failure, etc.) refer to the respective section in this booklet.

Earthquake

If an earthquake should occur:

During The Shaking --

1. If indoors
- Stay there.
- Take cover under sturdy furniture (desks, work tables, etc.) or in a supported doorway.
- Stay near the center of the building.
- Do not run for the exit as the stairs may be broken or jammed with people.
- Do not use elevators.
- Stay away from glass windows, doors, display cabinets, bookcases, etc.
- Do not use candles, matches, or other open flame as there may be gas leaks.
- Extinguish all fires with the proper type of extinguisher or other method.
2. If outdoors
- Move to an open area away from buildings, utility wires, trees, etc.
- If forced to stand near a building, watch for falling objects.
3. If driving a vehicle
- Stop as quickly as safety permits, avoiding overpasses and power lines.
- Remain in the car until the shaking stops.
- If able to drive on after the shaking stops, watch for hazards which may have been created by the earthquake (e.g., fallen/falling objects, downed utility wires, under-mined roadways, damaged bridges/overpasses).

This publication was produced as a public service. It may be reproduced and distributed freely in part or in its entirety. When duplicating individual articles please copy them exactly as they appear so that proper credit will be given to the originating institution.

The editors of this publication will be collaborating on additional projects. If there are issues which you would like to see addressed in the future please send your ideas to:

Preservation Policy and Services Division
National Archives at College Park
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

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