BATON ROUGE, La. — When evacuating from a hurricane, it can be easy to leave behind photos and documents accidentally while in a rush to get out.
“Homes can be rebuilt, carpet can get ripped out, but the family photo albums, the wedding dress, just those precious things you can’t replace easily,” said LSU Archival Professor Edwards Benoit.
Benoit said protecting essential mementos with Louisiana’s hot and humid weather can be difficult.
“Here in Louisiana, the biggest problem we have to watch out for are heat and moisture,” said Benoit.
After a storm, heat and moisture can cause mold to grow on photos. This can affect the coloring and cracking, causing the photos to become brittle.
“A good regular rule of thumb is to keep things in an air condition space,” said Benoit.
Benoit started The Virtual Footlocker Project to help veterans protect and preserve their military paperwork before realizing that it can benefit anyone.
He said it’s more about what not to do to save people’s belongings. Simple things that many of us do with photos that don’t help like taping them.
“Anything that you attach to a photograph is problematic,” warned Benoit. “What you don’t want to [use] is masking tape.”
Tape from the photo can cause yellowing on the edges of old photographs. It will also cause the glue from the tape to melt into the photo and peel off the face of the picture.
He also discussed how shoeboxes are typically used by people to store photos or documents, however, he said it’s actually one of the worst things you can do.
“These are not well-constructed boxes, and so it would definitely be better to use a more durable box, preferably acid-free,” said Benoit.
If he has to evacuate, he said the first thing he will grab are his family photos and tapes.
“It connects us to our families and to the past, and I think even if you don’t know the people in the picture, you can get some sense of where you came from,” said Benoit.
For those who keep digital copies, he suggests uploading all photos from Facebook and other social media sites to iCloud. In the event of losing a technology in a natural disaster, this will allow your photos and videos to load onto a new device.
For more tips on how to archive photos or resources, click here.