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How to Salvage Treasured Books from Flood Damage

Has your home flooded? Here's how you save your books from flood damage.

Adapted from the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, co-sponsored by FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution. Read this article for more information.

ONE

Personal safety is important when working with objects retrieved from contaminated water.

TWO

Wear disposable vinyl or nitrile gloves, protective clothing, goggles, and, when possible, use an N95 face mask while working.

THREE

If rinsing is necessary, hold books closed and gently rinse with clear, clean water.

FOUR

If leather, cloth, or paper materials are tacky or sticky, place wax paper between them. 

FIVE

Pack books, spine down, in a single layer in sturdy containers. 

SIX

Stack documents so as not to crush them. 

SEVEN

Place the containers in a freezer, preferably with a frost-free setting, and set it to the lowest possible temperature. 

EIGHT

Expect this drying process to take from several weeks to several months, depending on the freezer temperature and the extent of damage.


FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution co-sponsor the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a partnership of more than sixty national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies.