Salvage teams working with the Fire & Rescue Service, Handsworth, Birmingham

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Salvage teams working with the Fire & Rescue Service, Handsworth, Birmingham © Historic England

Emergency Planning Advice

For some, a tiny leak in the ceiling that allows water to drip onto a priceless painting is an emergency. Others may regard this simply as an ‘incident’. Whatever the point of view, an emergency is a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence requiring immediate action.

What is emergency planning?

Emergency planning is the process of assessing risks and finding ways of mitigating those risks or reducing their impact by putting in place, an emergency plan. Such a plan should include measures to handle sudden or unexpected situations, and clearly detail what needs to be done, how, when and by whom.

Three stages of emergency planning

Emergency planning involves creating and implementing steps to respond effectively to an incident, and forms part of a process of continual reflection and change.

Emergency planning can be divided broadly into three steps:

Three stages of emergency planning
Three stages of emergency planning © Historic England


Preparation encompasses all the things you need to think of, or do, to ensure you’ve done everything you can to prevent an incident or to ensure you are best prepared if one occurs. This includes information gathering, risk assessment and mitigation.  


Take action, identify options and contingencies. Response will include general guidelines or specific steps to be taken to respond to each type of disaster or hazard, identified during the preparation stage.


Review what happened, share information and agree future control measures. Recovery involves establishing the impacts of an event, determining their post-event status and any potential effects which could have impacted their significance and return to business as usual.

Useful advice and guidance notes

This section contains information that will help those responsible for emergency planning in the arts and heritage sector.

Salvage store equipment list and guidance notes:

We have suggested a list of equipment that will be of use in an emergency situation. Tailor the list to meet the needs of your organisation.

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