When Disaster Strikes Your Printed Photos
Mother Nature isn’t always kind. We suffer tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters and in the process, survivors are devastated by the losses they suffer. Insurance can help replace material possessions – furniture, clothes, dishes, cars – but it can’t replace those precious memories captured in printed photos.
Should you be lucky enough to find some of your printed photos in the wreckage of your home, you may be able to save some with the following tips.
After a Disaster: Your Printed Photos
DO NOT wipe dirt off the face of your photos; this may scratch the image. The best way is to try blowing the dirt off.
DO NOT tape ripped photos together; the tape will ruin the photos.
DO NOT use glue to repair rips or tears; glue will stain photographs.
DO NOT stack wet photos into piles; photos may end up sticking together as they dry.
DO NOT touch the face of a wet photo; this can leave fingerprints and damage the photos. Try to keep anything from touching the face of a wet photo.
DO NOT pull photos stuck together apart; this can tear and damage the photos.
If you have to choose which types of photos to save first, choose color prints, then black and whites followed by slides/transparencies and negatives. Color photos will be damaged by water the fastest.
When salvaging photos, you can:
- Dry them out immediately
- Freeze them
- Keep them in clean cold water that you change daily until you are able to do something with them
Once you start to dry a photo out, each photo should be dried separately and within 72 hours.
Once photos are dried, photos that are stuck together may not be able to be separated without damage occurring.
Freeze Your Wet Photos
Don’t have the time to deal with wet, damaged photos immediately? Freeze them! If they have been stored in some tub of water:
- Rinse off the dirt and mud under gentle running water.
- Do not try to separate any that are stuck together.
- Put a sheet of wax paper between each individual photo or groups of photos.
- Place them in a zip lock freezer bag.
- Place them in your freezer without anything stacked on top.
When you’re ready to start working with your photos:
- Only defrost as much as you are comfortable working with.
- Put the frozen photos in a tub of cool water, defrosting them at room temperature.
- Let the photos separate naturally over a day or two, changing the water each day.
- Once separated, rinse and let them air dry.
Disaster Prevention for Printed Photos
Back-up, back-up, back-up! This is really the first step in any disaster prevention plan. For any photos you don’t want to lose, be sure to have back-up copies. The best rule of thumb is to have three back-up copies and make sure that at least one back-up is stored in an off-premises location because photo storage suffers disasters, too!
Need a Little Assistance?
That’s what we’re here for, to help you protect, preserve and share your precious memories.