Safely Evacuating Your Private Collections

December 7, 2016

Safely Evacuating Your Private Collections

A disaster plan can be instrumental in helping you avoid or reduce the severity of damage caused to an art collection by a major catastrophic event. The most effective plans include action steps for both before and after the event. Experts from UOVO, a custom art storage and services company, recommend the following risk prevention measures:

  • Conduct a full fire and safety assessment to locate any hazards in your home; note all potentially dangerous items including flammables and combustibles.
  • Set up a temporary storage area on an elevated floor in an interior room, closet or hallway away from windows where you can safely store pieces until your home is secured. Your art storage and services provider can also help you develop an evacuation plan to transport work off-site in anticipation of dangerous conditions. 
  • Create an emergency art response team. This team can include experienced professionals as well as trusted members of your personal staff. Most critical is that each member of the team is properly trained and able to access your collection quickly, no matter what the situation. Identify multiple access routes for each member of the team in case the main roads leading to your home are closed.
  • Create emergency packs for your response team and fire department containing:
    • An emergency contact list – including main and alternate telephone numbers and email addresses – for all members of the team. If you travel frequently, include details about how and where you can be reached.
    • A prioritized list of the items in your collection, so that the most valuable pieces are removed first.
    • A list of tools, clothing, rigging equipment and other materials required for moving your collection, as well as where they can be found on hand. Provide an estimated timeframe for removal so logistics can be planned appropriately.
    • Specific wrapping and handling instructions and any specialist knowledge required to complete the job. For example, a contemporary piece created with pure pigment may not be able to be touched by human hands.
    • A map of your home that includes an evacuation route and highlights all exits.
    • A map of evacuation routes out of your neighborhood. If your home is located near water, air and road access may be limited; consider a water evacuation. Provide the locations of shut-off valves for water, gas and electricity.
  • Consider the impact a power outage could have on your collection. Incorrect temperature and humidity levels can destroy art, and the absence of a security system leaves collections vulnerable to theft. A whole-house generator can alleviate these risks. If you do find yourself without power, your collection should be relocated immediately and remain elsewhere until conditions are once again ideal.
  • Create a post-event maintenance plan for each piece. A PURE Member Advocate® can help you find a professional whom you trust to help you dry or restore any pieces that may become damaged during the event. Fine art especially should not be dried using typical means such as a fan, because drying too quickly could shrink canvas and loosen paint.

PURE members who would like assistance locating and scheduling appointments with high-quality service providers in their area can contact a PURE Member Advocate at memberadvocate@pureinsurance.com or (888) 813-PURE.