For Immediate Release

June 1, 2016

For Information Contact:

Steve Pine


Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance (TX-CERA)




Advice for Saving Damaged Family Treasures

Follow these steps to halt further damage

As the threat of flooding persists in Texas, residents in affected towns and cities are being urged to seek higher ground. When the flooding ends, residents will begin the long journey of recovery. With homes flooded and lives upended, treasured possessions such as family heirlooms, photos, and other keepsakes become more cherished. Unless they are contaminated by sewage or chemicals, these treasures can be saved. The Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance (TX-CERA) and The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) offers these basic guidelines from professional conservators for individuals who discover their family treasures have been damaged:

Safety First! With any disaster there may be health risks. Wear long sleeves,sturdy shoes, and plastic or rubber gloves during cleanup. Protective gear such asgoggles and a fitted face mask is recommended if there is mold.

Prevent Mold. Mold can form within 48 hours; you will need to work fast. Thegoal is to reduce the humidity and temperature around your treasures as youproceed to clean and dry them. If you do encounter extensive mold, use protectivegear such as gloves, goggles, and an N100 face mask, available at most hardwarestores.

Air-Dry. Gentle air-drying is best for all your treasured belongings—indoors, ifpossible. Hair dryers, irons, ovens, and prolonged exposure to sunlight will doirreversible damage. Increase indoor airflow with fans, open windows, airconditioners, and dehumidifiers.

Handle with Care. Use great caution in handling your heirlooms, which can beespecially fragile when wet. Separate damp materials: remove the contents from


drawers; take photographs out of damp albums; remove paintings and prints from frames; place paper towels between the pages of wet books.

Clean Gently. Loosen dirt and debris on fragile objects gently with soft brushesand cloths. Avoid rubbing, which can grind in dirt.

Salvage Photos. Clean photographs by rinsing them carefully in clean water. Air-dry photos on a plastic screen or paper towel, or by hanging them by the cornerwith plastic clothespins. Don’t let the image come into contact with other surfacesas it dries.

Prioritize. You may not be able to save everything, so focus on what’s mostimportant to you, whether for historic, monetary, or sentimental reasons.

Can’t Do It All? Damp objects and items that cannot be dealt with immediatelyshould be put in open, unsealed boxes or bags. Photos, papers, books, and textilesshould be frozen if you can’t get them dry within 48 hours.

Call in a Pro. If a precious item is badly damaged, a conservator may be able tohelp. Be sure to collect broken pieces. Set your treasure aside in a well-ventilatedroom until you find professional help. If a precious item has been exposed tocontaminated water, seek a conservator’s advice on salvaging it; your health andsafety, and that of your loved ones, is of utmost importance. To locate aconservator, go to on the website ofthe American Institute for Conservation.

A free, online video guide demonstrating how to rescue soaked photographs, books, documents, and other valued items is available from Heritage Preservation. View the video at:

Additional resources for salvaging flood-damaged materials can be found here:

These recommendations are intended as guidance only. TX-CERA and FAIC assume no responsibility or liability for treatment of damaged objects.



Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance (TX-CERA) is an affiliation of institutions and persons interested in preserving the cultural heritage of Texas. Through education and advocacy TX-CERA hopes to serve as a resource for cultural institutions in order to mitigate loss of cultural and heritage collections due to disaster. The organization will develop a roster of heritage and collections professionals in the state to create a network of ready support in the event of an emergency or disaster.

About FAIC

FAIC, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that increase understanding of our global cultural heritage.

About AIC

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works is a national membership organization supporting the professionals who preserve our cultural heritage. AIC plays a crucial role in establishing and upholding professional standards, promoting research and publications, providing educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public. Learn more about AIC at

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