In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thousands of family historians may be facing the task of salvaging precious family photos, papers, and heirlooms. Salvage efforts should begin within 48 hours, according to the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
Here are a few first steps to help with your recovery efforts of family photos:
1. Photographs and paper items will be extremely fragile when wet; handle with care. Avoid touching the print surface.
2. Framed photos that become wet should be removed from the frame to air dry flat, when possible. Remove frame backing, loosen edges, and gently free prints from frame.
3. Rinse photos gently with clear water to clean off silt and debris without touching the surface of the print.
4. Air dry wet items indoors if possible. Encourage air circulation by opening windows, running room fans, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers.
5. Do not store damp items in plastic bags — this will cause mold to grow. If you need to store temporarily in plastic containers, leave the lid off or ajar and encourage air circulation.
Consult a professional conservator for further restoration treatment.
This information is adapted from Disaster Response & Recovery, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and Disaster Recovery Conserve-O-Gram, National Parks Service, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
National Institute for Conservation
National Parks Service, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
Download NCPTT Disaster Recovery Conserve-O-Gram pdf
Photo: NCPTT Wet Recovery Workshop, 2008.