How can I minimise damage to my music, video and photo collection in an emergency ?

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Category: Disasters
Posted by Conservation Answers(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 4 March, 2014 4:08 am

Handling and storage requirements still apply, so don’t move things for the sake of it. Make a plan:

- Select the nearest safe location to move your works from harms way.
- After identifying impacted works and assessing potential damage, prioritise works to be handled.
- Any media stored on the floor should be moved. 
- Works should not be stored near heat or sunlight  sources.
- Avoid magnetic fields in storage: magnets, active computers, motors, transformers.
- Media works stored in  electrical devices should be disconnected. If a tape or disc is in functioning playback equipment, eject it. If the playback equipment is not functioning, disassemble to carefully remove the tape or optical disc.

Methods for recovery of material vary greatly with the type of damage, media, priority, extent of damage, etc. If wet, air-drying is the most appropriate for photographs, discs and tapes:

- Place damp objects in a cool (not warm) and dry environment on a clean surface and allow to dry slowly. If soiled, clean with distilled cold water and contact a media conservator to clean before drying. Fungus can begin to grow within 24 hours. 
- The greatest dangers to vinyl records are mold developing from not drying them thoroughly and labels coming off when exposed to water.
- For water-damaged vinyl LPs, remove them from any sleeving (especially plastic sleeves). They can be rinsed with clean, distilled water (do not use tap water because the impurities can create deposits of crystals in the grooves) and a lintless cotton cloth. Air-dry in a rack. Use Volara or other soft foam to cushion the bottom of the box.
- Remove tapes from their housing/casing along with any paper labels to dry separately. Leave any labels on the tape itself for identification purposes.
- Wet tapes must be dried within 24 hours. If contaminated, submerge in distilled water to clean off contaminate.
- Remove magnetic tapes from the water as soon as possible. If the magnetic tape is unique or the backup tape has been destroyed, send it to be dried, cleaned, and migrated to a digital format by a professional. Do not attempt this on your own, as the tapes require attention by a trained professional.
- Remove discs from their housing/container and wash with distilled water. Wipe with lint/abrasion-free cloth.


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