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Disaster Caches - Kansas Disaster Recovery Assistance Network

Most disasters are minor in nature effecting fewer than 250 volumes or 150 cubic feet of records. A roof leak, broken water line or backed up floor drain could result in a minor disaster. KDRAN encourages libraries and archives to maintain disaster caches (drums) that will provide the materials needed to react to a minor disaster at your institution.

Sealed drums are recommended for two reasons. A sealed container prevents supplies from being "raided" during non-disaster situations. Nothing is more upsetting than opening a disaster cache expecting to use an item that has been pulled from the drum for some other use. The second reason for using a sealed container is to protect the recovery cache that you will want to use to recover from a minor disaster. Most disasters involve some source of water. Rain leaking from a roof, water used by the fire department to extinguish a fire, or standing water from flood conditions. A sealed drum will keep moisture away from the recovery items and will float during a flood. When most needed your cache of supplies will be available and dry.

List of disaster cache contents:

Item: Quantity:
First Aid kit 1
Utility knife 2
Tool kit ( with hammer, screw drivers, etc.) 1
Extension cord (100 ft. 14-3 gauge) 1
Polyethylene sheeting (6 mil--10' x 100') 1 roll
Paper towels (no printing) 5 rolls
Drawstring lawn bags (39 gallon) 1 box
Waxed paper (100 sq. ft.) 1 box
Scissors 2
Rubber gloves 4 pairs
Polyethylene gloves (100 ct) 1 pkg.
Sponges 2 pkgs.
Flashlight 1
Batteries for flashlight 2 pkgs.
Clipboards 2
Pads of paper 2
Removable labels (pkg. of 500) 1 pkg.
Scrap paper pad 1
Pencils (sharpened) 1 box (dozen)
Post-it notes (pkg of 100) 2 pkgs.
"Lysol" spray disinfectant (19 oz can) 1 can
Permanent marking pens (black) 2
Freezer paper 1 roll
Plastic clothes pins 100
Polyester line (50 yds) 1 roll
Plastic paper clips (varied assortment) 1 box
Staple remover 1
Dust masks 1 box
"Do Not Enter" barricade tape 1 roll
Duct tape 1 roll
Electrical/plumbing tape 1 roll
Plastic drum (55 gal.) with plain cover 1


It is important to have these items in your cache on hand to contend with minor disasters on site. However, they cannot be purchased and then ignored. Each cache needs to be inspected annually. Specific parts of the cache will need to be replaced every three to five years. Batteries for flashlights and cameras will loose their charge over time, as will the flexibility of the plastics used in garbage and zip-lock bags. One staff member will need to be assigned the responsibility of inspecting the caches each year, exchanging out dated items for fresh stock, and testing any mechanical or electrical appliances (flashlights, fans, dehumidifies) that are part of your disaster supplies.