If you’re looking at evacuating ahead of a storm or hurricane, there isn’t time to scan your photo collection. You need to focus on ensuring the safety of your family and preparing your home as much as possible.
Here are some basic steps you can implement before the storm hits to give your photos the best possible chance of surviving the storm dry and intact.
Backup your computers and hard drives, including your photo collections.
Keep a copy of your backup secure in the cloud. Bring your backup drive with you, and store another copy at a friend’s house that is out of the storm’s path.
Do a sweep through your basement, first floor, and garage.
Do you have boxes or bins of memories stored there? Are your albums on a low bookshelf or coffee table? What about framed photos on walls or mantles? Gather them up so you can protect them. Children may be able to help with this step.
Wrap photos in double layers of plastic, sealed tight.
This could mean zip-top bags or a plastic garbage bag sealed with duct tape. Smaller baggies secured inside a larger garbage bag is a good system. If any of your frames have sharp edges, pad them, so they don’t rip the bags. Don’t forget to LABEL THEM. As an added precaution, you can put the wrapped packages in a plastic bin.
Plastic bins may be water resistant but are not water tight.
Floods can lift and carry heavy boxes, and can tip them over, so the water gets in. Make sure everything in the bins is wrapped in plastic.
You can put a few desiccant packs (like the ones that come in shoe boxes) in the container, making sure the photos are wrapped up separately and protected from any chemicals.
Move the bins of wrapped up photos to the highest level of your home.
Choose an upper shelf of a bedroom closet or any closet on an upper floor. A closet will keep bins from floating around or tipping.
Stay safe, and we wish you all the best as you weather the storm and its aftermath. Visit SaveYourPhotos.org to learn what to do after the storm.
Written by Kathy Rogers, MPH, Photo Organizing Coach
After the Hurricane – If Your Photos Get Wet
Tips for Preserving Water-Damaged Photos for Future Restoration
Contributed by Kathy Stone, owner of Calgary Photo Solutions
- Don’t throw away your wet, muddy, or damaged photos or albums
- Don’t dry photos in a place with bright sunlight, wind, or dust
- Don’t pry wet or dry photos apart
- Don’t use heat sources (hairdryer, microwave) to dry photos
- Wear gloves and a mask when handling wet photos and albums
- Remove plastic covers and sleeves from photos where possible
- Put your wet photos and albums in plastic bags and freeze them
- If possible, layer wax paper between individual photos or album pages
- If you don’t have access to a freezer, put photos and albums in sealed plastic bags to try and keep them from drying out completely
- These photos must be cleaned within 48 hours, as mold will begin to grow
- If you have very old heritage photos, you may want to contact a professional photo restoration service