New Brunswick

How to salvage items from your flood-damaged home

If you're returning to a flooded home or cottage, you may be wondering how you can save a wet photo, book or other water-damaged item.

Some water-damaged items can be placed in a freezer until you have time to dry them

The procedure for dealing with water-damaged items varies depending on the materials they're made of. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

If you're returning to a flooded home or cottage, you may be wondering how you can save a soaking photo, book, or other water-damaged item.

The New Brunswick Museum is directing people to a three-page document featuring tips on how to save their flood damaged items. 

The museum's guide was adapted from a version first published by the National Capital Region Conservators, which featured material gathered by conservators following flooding along the Ottawa River in 2017.

Claire Titus, a conservator at the New Brunswick Museum, said there are some simple ways people can salvage their flood-damaged items.

"Almost everything can be retrieved, if given the right amount of time to respond to it," Titus said. 

Before entering a flooded home, the guide recommends wearing gloves, rubber boots, a face mask and disposable coveralls to prevent coming into contact with sewage and mould.

The New Brunswick Museum offers people affected by flooding a guide to cleaning photographs, pictures and other heirlooms. Conservator Claire Titus said it's best to clean, or even freeze certain items right away, to avoid issues with mould. 6:16

Water-drenched photographs, paper documents and books can be frozen until you have time to deal with them, Titus said.

But some items, like paintings and furniture, can't be frozen because it will cause further damage.

"When something is wet and can stay wet, you can store that in a sealed Ziploc bag or in a plastic bin and get those things into as cold a freezer as you can find."

But the procedure for dealing with water-damaged items varies depending on the material it's made of, Titus said.

Some items, like paintings, can be rinsed with water if something is stuck to its surface.

"If you've got something that is really clinging to the surface of the painting, this might be your best chance to remove it without damaging the actual surface underneath."

Titus recommends contacting a conservator if you're unsure of how to salvage an item made of several materials.

She said staff at the New Brunswick Museum and provincial archives are available to field questions about how to preserve flood-damaged items.

With files from Shift


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