Conservators offer advice on saving irreplaceable items damaged by floods
Precious items like photos and fabrics can be saved, say conservators
When floods damage homes, some items like appliances and furniture can be replaced, but more precious, sentimental items like photo albums and family heirlooms often cannot.
Those keepsakes can often be salvaged or restored however, so a group of Ottawa conservators is offering advice to anyone worried about losing their mementos to water.
Those are the things that make you and your family who you are. Those are your heritage. And I think if we can save them, we should.- Erika Range, conservator
Conservator Erika Range and her colleagues at museums and galleries in the National Capital Region have set up a Facebook page to answer questions and provide tips.
"I am a very sentimental person, and I love my old things that I have, and I think people really connect to those things. Those are the things that make you and your family who you are. Those are your heritage. And I think if we can save them, we should."
Put wet pictures in freezer
Pictures and photo albums are very vulnerable to water damage, so Range says your best bet is to throw them in the freezer right away.
"It just buys you time. It doesn't dry it out, it doesn't preserve it in any way, it just gives us time so that you can go back and spend the proper time cleaning it later," she said.
If you don't have access to a freezer, she suggests cleaning photos by running them under clean, cool water, but don't touch the surface.
Air out books, freeze fabrics
If bookshelves or boxes of books become submerged, Range advises taking books out individually and placing paper towel between some of the pages to let them slowly dry.
She also recommends freezing any fabrics that may get wet so they can be cleaned later.
Avoid hot air dryers
Drying out and freezing items as soon as possible is a good way to prevent mold. But Range advises against being too hasty by using a hot air dryer on some items.
"Heat causes a lot of material to expand, and a lot of things are made up of different materials that expand at different rates, so you could cause more damage," she said.
Range welcomes any flood-affected residents worried about damaged items to contact her group through their Facebook page.