Emergency Preparedness


Links: for further information on disaster preparedness and relief.

Steps to Salvaging Valuables at Home:

1. Disaster Alert (if you have advanced warning):

  • Videotape or photo document the current condition of your home and belongings
  • If possible, secure vital records, video or photo documentation, and high priority items
  • Screw plywood over windows or use duct tape to reduce shattering
  • Move items away from windows and into water-resistant areas
  • Wrap shelves and cabinets with heavy plastic sealed with waterproof tape
  • Move outdoor items indoors
  • Turn off water and electricity

2. After the Disaster - Returning Home

  • Safety first! Do not reenter without permission of the proper authorities
  • Document the condition of all damaged items for insurance purposes
  • Notify your insurance representative about significant loses
  • Check for evidence of mold throughout the damaged area

3. Salvage Priority

  • Salvage items that are of the greatest importance to you
  • Focus on fragile items most prone to damage if left untreated
  • Pay attention to items most likely to be successfully salvaged

Other general tips to keep in mind:

In case of flooding:

  • Remove standing water from basement
  • Remove flood-soaked insulation, wallboard and nonhistoric wall coverings
  • Air dry with good ventilation
  • Contact a conservator to help you with valuables

Types of salvaged and other valuable items which you should bring to the attention of a conservator:

  • Framed artwork
  • Photographs
  • Books and paper
  • Textiles
  • Furniture
  • Ceramics, stone, and metal objects
  • Organic materials
  • Natural history specimens: may pose a health issue


This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.


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