Emergency Salvage of Family Treasures Tips

In 2015 conservators and students at The University of Texas at Austin's School of Information helped provide advice and limited disaster recovery assistance to help the Memorial Day Flood victims salvage damaged family treasures. The following information aims to provide support and valuable information for those affected by natural disasters in hopes of preserving their memories and treasures.

Quick Tips

  • Do not rush into salvage. Rushing may cause you to damage fragile paper. Instead, take your time and think about how you can work safely.
  • Wear nitrile or latex gloves when working with flood damaged materials to protect yourself from contaminants in the water.
  • Consider freezing wet books, paper and photographs to prevent mold growth. If possible, place pieces of wax paper at ¼” intervals in stacks of paper and between each photograph. Place stacks in plastic bags and freeze. Then you can thaw and dry them at your convenience.
  • Do not freeze anything made of glass.
  • Air dry materials by laying them out on a surface covered with paper towels, terrycloth towels, or other absorbent material. Dry paper in stacks no more than ¼” high. Dry photos in a single layer.
  • Use fans to keep the air moving, but do not aim fans directly at the wet materials.
  • Clean mold from materials using soot sponges.
  • Materials may look curled or wrinkled after salvage. This is okay. Salvage is designed to get things safe from mold growth and further damage. A conservator may have to help restore damaged items to their previous appearance.
  • Refer to the readings on the back for more in-depth information on salvage.

For advice, e-mail response@ischool.utexas.edu or call 512-903-9564.

How to Salvage Wet Materials

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