The weather in recent years seems to reach a whole new level of unpredictability. Storms have been occurring in greater frequency and hitting areas that were once thought of to be as safe. As such, flooding is now something that almost every property owner needs to think about. Businesses and educational institutions are also not immune.
The concept of flooding is not just significant because of the structural damage it can bring about. It also needs to be considered because it can destroy the contents of the property itself. One such example of the kind of effects it can have is the injuries sustained by important documents that can be quite valuable. Some examples of paperwork that needs to be saved are contracts, land titles, and even bonds. Even if the paper does not have a financial significance, they may still need to be saved because of sentimental value. Pictures and letters are invaluable because they cannot be replaced.
The good news is that even though damage is done to the papers because of flooding, there is a way to save them from the brink of being thrown in the trash. Document drying and document restoration helps bring these items to a level or total, or at the very least, acceptable repair. Considering that the option is available to property owners, the responsibility falls squarely upon them to find out more about the service by asking the right questions.
1. Is it safe to get the documents?
There is absolutely no excuse in endangering your life or the life of others all for the sake of getting the documents. Even though they may be quite significant or irreplaceable, it is still important to wait for the opportune time to retrieve them. This means that the waters have already receded to tolerable levels and the proper authorities have given the go-ahead to enter the premises. It is only then that you are permitted to enter the home or building to sort through your belongings.
It is true that the longer the documents are exposed to water, the more damage is sustained. But, keep in mind that a document is only as good as the person holding it. It will be of no use to you if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Some of the things to watch out for when entering a building that has been exposed to flood include exposed electrical wiring and gas lines. In fact, make sure that the utility systems are all shut off if there is still water to be found within the property. When entering the premises, arm yourself with the proper safety gear such as goggles and gloves.
Finally, prepare a plan before going in the home or building to retrieve the documents. Know exactly which items you would want to take out first. Doing this ensures that you do not prolong your stay within the property any more than what is necessary. Also, create an escape route in case there is an emergency and you would have to evacuate immediately.
2. Will insurance cover this?
Depending on the plan that you have, you may be able to make a claim for the drying and restoration of the documents that were damaged by the floods. Thus, there is a need to clarify the extent of your insurance coverage. Despite the significance of insurance, there are still some people who are unaware of the intricacies of their plans. Take note that while most natural calamities are covered by the majority of the plans available, flooding is not one of them. It would have to be purchased separately. Furthermore, if the paper item that you have is an antique, it would have to have its own insurance. Most providers do not include the repair and restoration of luxury items in its basic plans.
Once you have clarified as to whether or not you can make a claim in insurance, you would have to report the extent of the damage done in your property. Do not forget to keep records of the state of your home or business. Videos, pictures, and certification from the document drying and document restoration company can be quite helpful in facilitating your claim.
3. Do I have a system in place?
Documents need to be frozen as soon as you get your hands on them. The freezing is necessary because it makes it easier to transport the paperwork as well as prevent mold and mildew from developing. Make no mistake about it: document drying is a process that is a race against time. Waiting too long can render even the most advanced drying processes useless.
Given this, it is important for every person in need of document drying services to have a plan on how the items would be sorted out. The best way is to delegate a certain task or area to a particular person. Whether an office employee or a family member, the idea is to get things in order as soon as possible. Separate the damaged files from those that are not. Those that are still intact should be brought to a secure location immediately. Even if the rain has stopped and the waters have receded, that does not mean that the threat to the documents are no longer in existence. One of the effects of flooding is that it changes the moisture levels in the location. An increase in dampness can lead to explosion of mold and mildew which can damage the papers just as much as the actual flood.
A separate pile should be created for those files which can no longer be saved. If they are no longer usable, then they will only add to the confusion of the area. Finally, those documents that were damaged but can still be salvaged should be packed in a systematic way. Know which items you are sending to the company so it will be easy to track them down in case they get misplaced along the way.
4. What dying processes are going to be used?
There are different document drying techniques that can be used for the repair and restoration of important files. The kind that is used is largely due to the type of material that needs to be cleaned up and the expertise of the document restoration specialist. In most cases, the most effective way to dry the item is through the freezing process.
For example, in situations where film, such as microfilms and x-ray films, are involved, they are secured in a box and then refrigerated until it reaches a point of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Another type of drying technique is the one that is used for bound books. If leather is the material that is present, it should be allowed to dry at a very slow pace. Otherwise, the animal skin will tend to warp. In addition to this, leather can be flammable so direct heat is avoided.
Microforms pose another method of document restoration: reprocessing. Due to advances in technology, it can be reprocessed to reach a point wherein it is comparable to its original state. Finally, sublimation, or the process where solid materials turn vaporous, can be used on paper if it is freeze dried. To do this, the documents need to be put inside a special freeze dry chamber along with a vacuum which can suck out the moisture created.
5. What are the preventive measures I can take?
Although document drying is a fairly affordable and convenient measure to take in case there are papers that need to be restored, that does not mean that it is completely worry-free. The best route to take is still that of complete avoidance.
Increase the safety of important papers in the house by keeping them in a location that is elevated. Construct shelves that are at least a foot about the floor to prevent them from getting wet in case of a flood. Better yet, place them in the topmost shelves in your property. In addition to this, avoid keeping your documents in the basement where flooding is most likely to occur.
Invest in a waterproof safe where you can place the most valuable papers and pictures that you have. That way, you can be sure that they will withstand event the strongest of elements. It is also a good way to keep all your pertinent files all in the same place. That way, there is no need for any confused hunting to go on in the event of an emergency. All the relevant files are all located in one spot where they can easily be taken.
Develop the right attitude when it comes to water damage and the possibility of damaged documents. Always be prepared by refusing to get lulled into thinking that it cannot happen to you. Keep in mind that the act of prevention does not meant that you have to live in a bubble. When it comes to water damage, there is no such thing as jinxing it.
Prepare for document drying and document restoration by getting in touch with licensed and qualified professionals even before the need arises. That way, you can easily save time by having their contact details on hand in case of an emergency.