Disaster Response Plan Template

This Disaster Response Plan Template was designed to assist you in the development of your Disaster Recovery Plan.  This Disaster Response Plan Template was developed using the following resources. You are free to edit the Disaster Response Plan Template as you see fit.

  • California Preservation Program.  Disaster Plan Template, 2005. http://calpreservation.org/disasters/index.html
  • Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia, Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan, 2008.
  • Fortson, Judith. Disaster Planning and Recovery: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians and Archivists. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1992.
  • Jones, Virginia A. and Kris E. Keyes.  Emergency Management for Records and Information Programs.  Prairie Village, KS: ARMA, 2001.

You can download this Disaster Response Plan Template for free using the links below:

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Table of Contents

Purpose, Scope and Authorization
Locations Where This Plan is on File

Immediate Response Phone Tree

In-House Emergency Team

Other Emergency Contacts
Facilities: Locations of Emergency Systems
Essential Records Salvage Priorities
Locations of Backups of Essential Records

Emergency Supplies and Equipment

Risk Assessment

Emergency History

Re-entry Checklist
Damage Assessment Checklist
Pack Out Instructions
Salvage of Water Damaged Materials
Documents, Books, Microfilm, Microfiche, CDs and DVDs

Responding to a Mold Outbreak

Salvage Glossary

APPENDICIES [to be added by individual institutions] 
Building Floor Plans/Maps
Building Evacuation Plan
Specific Emergency Procedures
Records Inventory
Copy of Insurance Policy
Copy of Disaster Recovery Services Contract











Address (s) of Additional Facilities:






Description /Scope of Plan:







Locations Where This Plan is on File:










This plan was developed and approved under the authority of:



_________________________         ________________________     __________________

Name                                                  Title                                               Date









  • Assess your own safety and act accordingly.
  • Elicit help from a co-worker or another person in the area.
  • Act to protect lives, then physical property.

MAKE THE FOLLOWING PHONE CALLS in the order shown, based on the type of emergency.




Fire Department

People Hurt


Water / Electrical Emergency



Building or Equipment Damaged

Records Damaged

Computer Equipment Damaged



All emergencies
during working hours

All emergencies
after working hours



This team will develop, maintain, and implement the emergency management plan.


The team should be made up of employees from all levels, familiar with all functions within the organization.  The size of the team will vary, depending on the size of the organization.

The following functions and positions should be represented on the planning team:


  • Records Manager
  • Information Technology
  • Safety Director
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Facility Maintenance Manager
  • Other Appropriate Individuals




Office Phone NumberHome Phone Number

Mobile Phone NumberPosition

Emergency Contact (Name & Number)




Office Phone NumberHome Phone Number

Mobile Phone NumberPosition

Emergency Contact (Name & Number)




Office Phone NumberHome Phone Number

Mobile Phone NumberPosition

Emergency Contact (Name & Number)





Office Phone NumberHome Phone Number

Mobile Phone NumberPosition

Emergency Contact (Name & Number)





Office Phone NumberHome Phone Number

Mobile Phone NumberPosition

Emergency Contact (Name & Number)






Office Phone NumberHome Phone Number

Mobile Phone NumberPosition

Emergency Contact (Name & Number)





Public Officials


County Commissioner

County Clerk

County Manager

Chief Operations

Officer   Chief Financial Officer





Police Chief

Nearest Police Station

Fire Chief

Nearest Fire Station


Georgia State Patrol Post   Local EMA

State EMA

FEMA Regional Office

Local Red Cross

Public Health Dept






Water Utility

Fire Suppression

Fire Detection





Janitorial Services

Pest Control


Legal Counsel



Risk Management




Conservation or Preservation

Document Recovery Services

Building Recovery Services

Local Freezer Space






State Archives

Georgia Archives678-364-3700Local Disaster Networks

Regional Preservation Services


GHRAB Coordinator-Elizabeth Barr (GA Archives)678-364-3718 Govt. Records Organization

State/Regional Archival Organization.

Society of Georgia Archivistswww.soga.orgNARA Regional Office

NARA Southeast Regional Archives770-968-2100Heritage Preservation

202-233-0800Council of State ArchivistsVicki Walch, Director319-338-0248OTHER

Facilities:  Locations of Emergency Systems

A. Main Utilities

            1. Main water shut-off valve: _______________________________________________

2. Sprinkler shut-off valve: _________________________________________________

3. Main electrical cut-off switch: _____________________________________________

4. Main gas shut-off valve: __________________________________________________

5. Heating/cooling system controls: __________________________________________

B. Fire Suppression Systems (by room or area)

            1. Sprinkler Heads: ____________________________________________________

2. Fire hoses: ___________________________________________________________

C. Water Detectors____________________________________________________________


D. Keys

Key boxes: _____________________________________________________________

Individuals with master keys (attach list with names, titles, and keys in possession).

E. Fire Extinguishers (label by number according to type on floor plan)

1. Type A – wood, paper, combustibles; 2. Type B – gasoline, flammable liquid; 3. Type C – electrical; 4. Type ABC – combination; 5.  Gaseous


F. Fire Alarm Pull Boxes (use floor plan)



G. Smoke and Heat Detectors (use floor plan)



H. Radios (transistor/two-way for communication/weather)
I.  Cell Phones



J. First Aid Kits



K. Public Address System


L. Nearest Civil Defense Shelter



Essential/Vital Records Salvage Priorities


Records should be classified according to their level of importance to the operations of the organization or agency.  Consider developing a color-coded flagging system to facilitate document organization, and make pack out and recovery efforts more efficient.  If possible, group documents of the same value in the same area to make their removal in a disaster situation easier.

One of the most critical steps to take in preparing for a disaster is to develop and maintain a records inventory listing all documents according to content, medium, importance, and storage location.  Keep a hard copy of the inventory in your facility; at least one hard copy at a nearby offsite location, and one copy outside of the region.



DescriptionID No.FormatQuantityLocationNotes




Locations of back-up copies of essential records


Backup copies of all documents, or at minimum essential/vital records, should be stored at another site, preferably one in another region so that a widespread disaster will not also affect the backup copy.  Appropriate backups can be either hard copies or dependable electronic copies.



DescriptionFormat Location/Phone NumberContact Person

















Emergency Supplies


Basic response supplies should be immediately accessible.  Identify whether item is kept onsite, or list the offsite source.  Supply stockpiles should be inventoried and any missing or used items replaced at least annually.







Aprons/Lab Coats/Smocks  Boots, Rubber  Caution Tape  First Aid Kits  Flashlights  Gloves – Latex  Gloves – Nitrile  Goggles (safety glasses)  Hand Sanitizer  Hard Hats  Respirators,  Dust & Mist (N95)  Signage     General Supplies  Battery Powered or Hand Crank Radio  Batteries  Camera/Video camera  Clipboards  Extension Cords, grounded  Labels, Adhesive  Markers, Permanent  Notepaper  Pens, Pencils  Plastic Sheeting  Tarps  Water, distilled     Cleanup  Brooms  Brushes  Buckets  Disinfectant  Dust Pans  Garbage Bags  Garbage Cans  Rubber Garden Hose  Mops  Rags  Sponges     Packing and Transporting  Book trucks/hand trucks/carts  Boxes, cardboard  Boxes or crates, plastic  Duct Tape  Newsprint, blank  Packing Tape & Dispensers  Pallets  Paper, Freezer or Waxed  Trays, Plastic (bread)  Tubs, Plastic   




Clothesline (30 lb, monofilament or nylon)  Clothes pins, plastic  Fans

Paper, Blotting

Paper, Freezer  Paper, Silicone Release/Waxed  Paper, Scrap  Paper Towels

Polyester, (Mylar or Melinex)







Crowbar  Emergency Lights  Generator, portable and fuel  Hammers  Hand Saw  Ladders  Lights, shop  Moisture Meter  Nails & screws, various sizes  Pliers – Regular  Pliers – Needle-nose  Screwdrivers, flat and Philips  Scissors  Shovel  Tape Measures  Utility Knives and Blades  Wet/Dry Vacuum  Wire Cutters  Wrenches




Identify and list the threats that your facility is most likely to face.  Investigate the history of your facility, your area, and other similar areas and organizations.  The types of risks to consider include environmental, technological, industrial, as well as human threats.  Keep track of national, regional, and local security and disaster related updates and warnings for more immediate assessments of risks facing your organization.  Consider and rank the likelihood of each potential disaster listed below, and plan for each individual scenario.
5= Strong Probability/ has occurred before

4= Probable


2=Remote possibility

1-Very unlikely


Potential DisasterRisk Level
Blizzard/Ice Storm
Bomb Threat
Chemical/Hazardous Waste Spill-Inside Building
Chemical/Hazardous Waste Spill-Outside Building
Earthquake Damage
Fire-Entire Building
Fire-Document Storage Room (Total Destruction)
Flooding –Natural causes
Flood due to plumbing or building failure
Mold Outbreak
Pandemic Flu
Pest Infestation
Power Outage
Security Threat-Building Not Accessible
Transportation Accident


Emergency History


In the space below, describe emergencies which have occurred. Include the date, the location within the building, the number of materials affected, recovery procedures, and the resources (time, money, personnel, etc.) needed for complete recovery from the emergency. Also note any vendors or suppliers used in recovery actions and evaluate their performance for future reference. This section should be updated after any emergency occurrence.



Disaster Re-Entry Checklist


The first step in disaster response should always involve addressing human safety.

Everyone known or believed to have been inside must be accounted for and all injuries attended to.  No one should enter a disaster site until civil authorities have granted clearance.  Only after clearance is granted and the cause of the emergency is under control, may staff proceed to carefully enter the site to begin to assess damages.


  1. Is the building structurally sound?
  2. Have utilities been turned off?
  3. Do you have a “BUDDY” to accompany you?


  1. Are you equipped with appropriate protective equipment?
  2. Are communications established through necessary equipment?
  3. Has the Command Center been informed of your re-entry?
  4. Are you prepared for quick initial documentation?


Damage Assessment Checklist



1.      How big is the damaged area?

  1. What kinds of records have been damaged?
  2. How long have items been wet?
  3. Any signs of mold?
  4. What team members/additional personnel are needed?
  5. What supplies are needed?


Pack Out Instructions



Following are instructions for safely packing and removing damaged (wet, damp or saturated) materials from the disaster site to be salvaged. This may involve freezing, air drying or vacuum freeze drying.


  • Identify a sorting area within close proximity to disaster site, with as much table space as possible.  May also need work stations, and temporary storage. Begin with highest priority items, based on immediate danger, proximity (closest or most accessible), Most valued, appears as a “holdings priority”, most vulnerable, or most damaged.  Keep detailed records to track dispersal of materials.


  • Use plastic boxes (such as Rescubes™ or plastic crates) for soaking wet items and cardboard boxes with plastic liners for damp items.  Boxes should be no larger than one cubic foot.  Wet items are very heavy.


  • Loosely wrap books to be frozen with waxed, freezer, or silicon release paper.  Place books in box in a single layer, spine down.
  • Documents in file folders are to be placed in boxes vertically.  Make sure boxes are filled to capacity to prevent warping.
  • Do not attempt to flatten crumpled stacks of wet paper or documents.
  • Transport oversized items on baker’s trays, pallets, or sheets of plywood covered in plastic.

  Pack flat sheets in bread trays or flat boxes.

  • Bundle rolled items loosely and place horizontally in boxes lined with silicone release paper.
  • Remove drawers from flat files; ship and freeze stacked with 1″ x 2″ strips of wood between each drawer. Framed or matted items must be removed from frames and mats prior to air or freeze drying.





Air dry or freeze within 48 hours. Records with glossy or coated paper or water-soluble inks should be frozen immediately to arrest the migration of moisture that will feather and blur inks. Records that show signs of previous bacterial growth should also be frozen immediately if they cannot be air dried.
Handling Precautions

Paper is very weak when wet and can easily tear if unsupported while handling.


Freezing is the best option if there are large quantities, or if the water damage is extensive. Do not freeze framed items. Remove frame assemblage before freezing.


Air Drying —most suitable for small numbers of records which are damp or water damaged around the edges. Keep the air moving at all times using fans. Direct fans into the air and away from the drying records. Use dehumidifiers as needed to maintain 50 percent RH.

  • Secure a clean, dry environment where the temperature and humidity are as low as possible. Cover tables, floors, or other flat surfaces with sheets of blotter or uninked newsprint.
  • Damp material — Single sheets or small groups of records are to be laid out on paper-covered flat surfaces. If small clumps of records are fanned out to dry, they should be turned at regular intervals to encourage evaporation from both sides. As a last resort to maximize space utilization, clothesline may be strung for the records to be laid across.
  • If an item has water-soluble media, allow it to dry face up. Do not attempt to blot the item since blotting may result in offsetting water-soluble components. Wet blotter or newsprint should be changed and removed from the drying area.
  • Wet material — When separating saturated paper, use extra caution to support large sheets. If sheets are contained in flat files, standing water should be sponged out first. If items are in L-sleeves the polyester must be removed to allow drying. Cut the two sealed edges of the film in the border between the item and the seal. Roll back the top piece of polyester in a diagonal direction. If there are any apparent problems with the paper support or media, stop and seek the assistance of a Conservator. Support can be given to single sheets by placing a piece of polyester film on top of the document. Rub the film gently and then slowly lift the film while at the same time peeling off the top sheet in a diagonal direction. Lay the sheet flat; as it dries, it will separate from the surface of the film.






Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Coated paper must not be allowed to air dry in a clump or it will permanently block together. If slightly damp and the pages are separable, air dry interleaved pages before items have an opportunity to dry. If saturated, coated paper must be frozen as soon as possible for subsequent vacuum freeze-drying.


Handling Precautions

Do not move items until a place has been prepared to receive them. Do not open or close books or separate covers. Oversized books need to be fully supported, it may only be possible to move one at a time.



AIR DRYING– The best option for small quantities (less than 100 volumes) of books that are not thoroughly soaked

  • Locate a large space for drying where tables can be set up with fans for air circulation.  Keep air moving at all times, direct fans away from drying volumes.  Use dehumidifiers to maintain humidity at or below 50%.
  • Cover tables with absorbent paper such as blotter or unprinted newsprint.
  • Close volumes tightly and gently remove mud or debris from outside of volumes before drying with clean water.
  • Interleave every 20 pages with unprinted newsprint or paper towels.
  • Damp items may be stood on end with the pages fanned open slightly.
  • Small pamphlets may be hung on a clothesline or fishing line.
  • Oversize volumes must lay flat and should be turned when the blotter is changed. Pages should be interleaved with sheets of blank newsprint or blotting paper that is changed as it becomes saturated.
  • Monitor volumes periodically while drying.  Replace interleaving when wet.
  • When volumes are just damp to the touch, can dry flat under light weight to prevent warping.
  • Dry paper should have a moisture content of less than 8%.







Rewash and dry within 72 hours. Wet film must be kept wet until it can be reprocessed.


Handling Precautions

Do no remove wet microfilm from boxes; hold cartons together with rubber bands. Dry film in damp or wet boxes should be removed and kept together with the box. Do not move items until a place has been prepared to receive them.


Packing Methods

Wet microfilm should be submerged in clean, cold water in plastic trays or trash cans.


Preparation for Drying

Contact a microfilm lab or film processor to rewash.


Drying Methods

Contact a disaster recovery service or microfilm lab to rewash and dry film.





Freeze or dry within 72 hours.


Handling Precautions

Do not move items until a place has been prepared to receive them and you have been instructed to do so. If the fiche cannot be air dried immediately, keep them wet inside a container lined with garbage bags until they are frozen.


Drying Methods

Freeze if arrangements cannot be made to air dry the fiche quickly. Fiche should be removed from the paper jackets to dry. Jackets should be retained to preserve any infomation printed on them, but this information should be transferred to new jackets once the fiche is dry and ready to be stored again. The best air drying method is to clip the fiche to clotheslines with rust-proof clips.


Fiche has been successfully vacuum freeze-dried, though freeze-drying of photographic materials is not widely recommended. If dealing with large quantities of fiche this option should be investigated.



Compact Discs, CD-ROMs and DVDs



Immediately air dry discs.  Dry paper enclosures within 48 hours.


Handling Precautions

Do not scratch surfaces.


Preparations for Drying

Remove discs from cases.  Rinse discs with distilled water.  Do not rub the discs because dirt could scratch.  If necessary, blot, do not rub, with a soft lint-free cloth.


Drying Methods

Paper enclosures may be freeze dried.  Do not freeze dry the discs.  Air dry discs vertically in a rack.

Responding to a Mold Outbreak

After a water disaster, or when humidity is high (above 50-60%) for 48 hours or more, mold is likely to form on the surface of records materials causing deterioration and staining. Mold can also cause health problems, so protective clothing should be worn and any persons exposed to mold should be outfitted with a respirator.

  • Isolate affected materials
    • Small outbreak (less than 500 items) place materials in garbage bags and move to a dry area.
    • Large outbreak (more than 500 items) quarantine area immediately to prevent mold from spreading (close doors, hang plastic sheeting) and contact professional help.
  • Identify species with the help of a mycologist or industrial hygienist
  • Locate source of humidity
    • Remove any standing water and damp furnishing and carpet
    • Look for leaks, burst pipes, broken windows, damp basement areas, blocked gutters, plants.
    • Check HVAC system, especially the coils, drip pan, duct work.
  • Inactivate mold
    • Reduce relative humidity to below 50%; increase air circulation with fans
    • Dry damp materials before cleaning
    • Large outbreaks may require professional dehumidification services
  • Clean the affected items
    • Remove residual mold from documents or books with a HEPA vacuum.  Brush the mold into the hose attachment of the vacuum, or vacuum through a screen to protect records.


  • Clean and disinfect storage area
  • Follow-up with monitoring





Damp or wet materials are spread out on tables or surfaces lined with absorbent material such as blotter paper or unprinted newsprint.  Items are dried in ambient environmental conditions (70-75ºF; 50-55% RH) or lower with increased air circulation.   This is the most gentle technique; minimizes distortion, and is useful for small quantities of damp materials.



A useful technique for drying damp library and archival collections without the need to move them. Available from several companies in the U.S. Super-dry air is pumped into the building and moist air drawn out.



If items cannot be dried within 48 hours, freeze them until further action can be taken.  Blast freezing is best because smaller ice crystals are formed, but any commercial freezer will do.  Materials should be packed loosely in cardboard or plastic boxes.  Freezing stops inks from running and offsetting, and swelling, prevents mold growth, buys time” to make decisions, and is preferred for large quantities of wet paper based materials.



Interleaving will keep items from sticking together and prevent dye transfer. Blotter paper, uninked newsprint, or paper towels may be used, except in cases waxed paper or freezer paper is called for.



Mud or dirt: rinse items under a gentle stream of clean running water or gently agitate them in containers filled with water, before drying. Never scrub items in a way that might drive dirt in deeper. Use a sponge/soft cloth to blot off mud and debris. Hold books and file folders closed while rinsing.



Also called “thermal drying.” Available from many companies in the U.S. Items are dried in a vacuum chamber, often at temperatures above 100°F. Slower than vacuum freeze drying, but generally less expensive. Because high temperatures accelerate aging, THIS METHOD SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR LIBRARY AND ARCHIVAL MATERIALS.



Frozen items are placed in a vacuum chamber and dried at below-freezing temperatures to minimize swelling and distortion. Generally provides the most satisfactory results and is recommended for library and archival materials. This service is available throughout the U.S.