If you have documents that have been damaged by a storm or flood, all is not necessarily lost. With the latest in document restoration technology, even the most water damaged documents can be restored to a usable – and in some cases, pre-loss – condition. However, it is important to act quickly and properly to preserve your documents.
As soon as you realize you have water damaged documents on your hands, disaster recovery services recommend that you:
DO increase circulation.
Use fans to improve circulation in the room that has been flooded. Open windows and doors, too, if possible.
DO blot away excess moisture with towels or sponges.
Make sure the towels and sponges are clean. Avoid blotting handwritten or otherwise sensitive water damaged documents. (Note: Newspaper is not a good absorption agent because its ink may transfer to the water damaged documents.) You will also want to pump excess water out of the room.
DO remove the highest-priority documents.
Each disaster recovery service has its own recommended procedure for preparing, labeling and transporting boxes of water damaged documents, so contact your preferred vendor for more information on this.
Our disaster recovery specialists also have a few warnings for those who would like to minimize damage to documents:
DON’T separate individual documents when wet.
Aim to dry water damaged documents in stacks no more than ¼ inch high. An effective, high-circulation drying system involves stacking clean, non-rusty window screens between stacks of bricks or wood blocks. You can also dry items on a hard surface as long as you place absorbent materials between the surface and the water damaged documents.
DON’T aim fans directly at water damaged items.
DON’T dry books on their front edge.
Instead, fan the book open and stand it on its top or bottom edge, whichever is driest. Turn the book over to dry on the opposing edge every couple of hours.
DON’T touch the surface of wet photographs or film negatives.
Instead, handle them on the edges as much as possible. Most photographs may be air-dried using clothespins and a laundry line. One more “don’t” for preserving photographs: Do not freeze them. Historical photographs should be left to the expertise of disaster recovery services.
DON’T forget basic safety precautions.
If it has been more than 48 hours since the area became flooded, it’s likely that mold growth has already occurred. Therefore, you will want to wear a mask or respirator as well as long sleeves and latex gloves. Additionally, remember that it’s dangerous to operate electrical equipment while standing on a wet floor.
[ Photo by: ToastyKen, via CC License ]