01 May 2011

Take 1 Simple Step for MayDay!

MayDay is a national effort to prepare for disasters in the cultural heritage community. On May 1 – this year and every year – we can do something that will make a difference when and if an emergency occurs.

MayDay began as grassroots effort to safeguard archives by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in 2006. A year later, SAA was joined in its efforts by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a partnership of 41 national service organizations and government agencies. Heritage Preservation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the United States, broadened the base of the emergency preparedness initiative to include all types of cultural heritage organizations shortly thereafter.

Libraries, museums, archives, and arts and historic preservation organizations across the nation will observe MayDay today. MayDay encourages cultural heritage institutions to take one simple step to protect the art, artifacts, records, and historic structures they hold in trust.

Of course, preparedness is not just for institutions and governments. Disaster preparedness is everyone's business.

Given that life happens on a daily basis, and disaster is often part of life, then we must ready ourselves for the likelihood that today could just be the day that the earth moves beneath us -- as it did in 1886 -- or the day that a hurricane comes and tears up the town -- as it did in 1959 -- or a fire consumes much of Old Town Bluffton -- as it did in 1863 -- or a tornado touches the ground in a neighborhood subdivision -- as it did in 1933, as it did with loss of life on St. Helena Island in 1998 -- and try to prepare as best we can to survive the event, and to thrive after the event.

You, too, can take just one simple step towards protecting the family treasures in your possession and/or the people you hold most dear.

Here are a few ideas:
* Perhaps you participated in the Great Shake-out on Thursday. That would count as one simple step.

* Perhaps you could look through the entries in Connections labeled with the topic "Emergency Preparedness" (18 as of this writing) or "Preservation Techniques" (20 as of this writing) to help you care for your family treasures. This would count as one simple step.

* Take a look at the resources offered by the Beaufort County Emergency Management Department. This would count as one simple step.

* Begin gathering the necessary contents for your hurricane evacuation box(es) for the upcoming hurricane season. It starts 1 June! This would count as one simple step.

One simple step now can pay off in spades when disaster strikes.

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