Responding to Emergencies and Disasters

With flooding affecting many areas in the north and northwest of Tasmania and impacting on historic heritage places, it's important to remember a few basic steps.

In case of an emergency, we recommend the following ten steps:

  1. If you have warning of an impending threat, move any significant objects that might be affected to a safe place.
  2. Dial 000 for help if the safety of persons or structures is under immediate threat.
  3. If you are not the owner, manager or custodian of the place, try to contact the person or organisation that is the manager in order to ensure that protection and recovery efforts are coordinated.
  4. Do not enter the place while it is unsafe due to fire, floodwaters, or structural instability.  In these conditions, only emergency services should access the place.
  5. Before entering a building, make sure that it is safe in terms of structure, live electrical wiring, and contamination.  Wear personal protective equipment such as a hard hat, boots and gloves for protection from likely hazards such as falling objects, heat or contaminated water.
  6. Take photographs before removing any object or carrying out any remediation work.
  7. If fragile objects of cultural heritage significance have been affected by the event (particularly objects of paper, fabric, animal products or wood), obtain specialist advice on their conservation as soon as possible after removing these objects from immediate danger.  Some objects may need to be kept cool or frozen immediately after recovery in order to minimise damage.
  8. Refer to relevant information from heritage agencies to understand what ought to be done to stabilise, dry out and clean affected heritage structures and objects.  For flood affected places, publications which may be of use are Treatment of Flood-damaged Older and Historic Buildings and  Flooding and Historic Buildings.
  9. If the place is on the Tasmanian Heritage Register, contact Heritage Tasmania on 1300 850 332 for further advice on what to do.
  10. If a place will be unoccupied for a period due to damage, ensure that it is made secure to prevent theft or vandalism.  It may also be necessary to repair roofs or to provide temporary structural supports to damaged structures so that affected buildings don't sustain further damage.

When a heritage place is affected by a damaging event such as a fire, storm, flood or earthquake, informed and prompt action can reduce the loss of heritage material and consequently the long term impact that the event has on the place's cultural heritage values.

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