Blog – Catastrophe Response, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Recovery, Document Recovery

Document Recovery – Five Frequently Asked Questions about Saving Books, Files and Photographs

Following hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters, many people simply accept the loss of books, papers and other sentimental paper items. Not everyone is aware of document recovery services, how it works, or they don’t understand what exactly can be saved. In some cases, in an attempt to save items, good intentions can cause further damage. Just because you see mold on a book, don’t throw it away. Why? Here are five frequently asked questions and Polygon’s answers regarding saving documents, books, documents, and other items.

1) Our business has dozens of file cabinets full of wet documents, should we start unloading?

Do not attempt to start moving wet documents, files or other materials.  First off, you don’t know the extent of damage to the paper files or books. Secondly, when Polygon arrives on site, we have a process in packing out documents, loading out all of the files in a certain order.  We systematically remove documents for a few reasons. We organize groups of documents in distinctly marked boxes so that we know where to return to them and in what order. Also, we label all of the boxes with as much detail as possible, allowing for quick retrieval in the event that an important file or document is needed before they’re returned.   

2) I see mold on wet books, can they still be saved?

Absolutely. Books, x-rays, files, photographs and other paper items are all salvageable with mold present.  Cleaning and disinfecting is typically part of the document recovery process, if needed, and that includes mold spores.  The recovery process for documents is determined by the severity of damage that books or paper has received.  Imagine the difference between a box of files that was left in the rain versus a box of files that sat in a basement for weeks following a flood.  The degree of damage will be quite different between the two boxes. Rather than simply drying books or papers, when mold or other bacteria is present, the process will now include disinfecting and possibly surface cleaning, depending on the circumstance. Do not try to make an assessment on your own.  Contact Polygon before you decide to throw away any damaged items.

3) We have extremely sensitive information on these wet documents and they can’t leave our building. Can you dry the documents here?

On site drying can be arranged, yes. Polygon has drying and freeze-drying chambers at our offices but in some instances, we have organized the equipment and personnel to work on site at a customer’s location. We have created small drying chambers and created the proper environment to achieve the same level of drying found at our offices. In fact, some of the United States’ most sensitive documents have been dried and recovered on site by Polygon – at undisclosed locations, of course.  If documents cannot leave, we can arrange to come to you. 

4) Should I start drying these wet papers and then let you finish the drying?

The short answer is to leave them alone. In many instances, it is best to leave the documents where they are and allow Polygon to begin the drying and recovery process. As stated earlier, if you start moving documents around and attempt to dry them on your own, there is no telling what may happen, or whether additional damage may occur as a result of your efforts. Furthermore, depending on what you’re using to dry the documents, you may dry too quickly and create a whole other form of damage.   

5) We have blueprints and other very large format papers.  Are they too large to dry in your drying equipment or facility?

No, we have yet to encounter a piece of paper or book that is too large for us to dry or clean.  The drying rooms and freeze-dry chambers that Polygon uses are much larger than people imagine. The only possible limitation would be an incredibly large document or item that requires the freeze-drying chamber, which is a space that simply can’t be made larger (imagine a small submarine that is a freezer).  The desiccant drying chambers that we utilize can be made larger or smaller very easily. Again, we have not encountered any items that are too large for drying.  Size doesn't matter.

If you have additional questions or would like to know more about how Polygon Document Recovery Services can help save your wet books, files, photographs or other items, please contact a Polygon representative.

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