The 1 Hour Organizer

August 31, 2017
Laura Ecker

Rescuing Family Photos and Paper Documents

Photo by Lindy Baker

Most people don’t think about photo preservation until a fire, flood, or other natural disaster happens. With many of my family members and childhood friends living in Southeast Texas, I have been thinking of ways I can help. Living many states away, sharing information is the most helpful thing I can do.

In a perfect world photos will be saved in online back ups and fireproof/waterproof containers. Even if you have not intentionally saved photos, many are already saved in your Facebook files. Families and friends can share and many can be recovered.

If photos are water damaged, all is not lost. Photos can be washed, dried, and even frozen for preservation if they are removed from the water within a couple of days. For someone staying in a shelter, there will be no room to dry photos even if they have been able to save some. If you want to help a friend by salvaging photos, this link has the best tips I have found online.

Paper documents and books, especially family Bibles and genealogy documents, may also be salvageable. You can download instructions on how to do this from the National Archives.

Another way you can help a friend is offering to scan photos to a disk. This is a very nice thing to do for anyone, even if they have not suffered catastrophic loss, and makes a great “Christmas Gifting of Your Time Certificate”. Almost all recent models of home printers have scanning features.

About 90% of my photos from pre-cell phone days are scanned and backed up on disk drives. It was time consuming and it took my husband more than a few hours to scan them. I have loaded most of my scanned and recent digital photos to Google Drive. In my opinion, Google Drive is a bit confusing and I plan to write another blog post about Cloud/Google/Apple virtual photo backups when I feel more comfortable using them.

In addition to scanning, you can organize the photos in pretty boxes or albums, frame a few for your friend’s temporary or remodeled home, or upload them to photo sharing apps such as Snapfish or Shutterfly

You can put photos on pretty personalized coffee mugs and include a bag of your friend’s favorite coffee as a thoughtful housewarming gift. Comfort gifts such as this are wonderful for a temporary home as well. Do you make scrapbooks? A scrapbook/photo album would be a wonderful gift for someone who is going through a really bad time. Whatever you do, whether crafting or cooking, or cleaning and organizing, you can share with a friend in need.

#photopreservation #waterdamagedphotos #photoorganizing