PROTECTING YOUR VALUABLES; Weathering a Big Storm the Time to Be Thinking about Saving What You Own Is Now

Article excerpt

Byline: JUDY WELLS

The warning flags are flying, there's not a spare sheet of plywood in town and you're on the roadway packed with people fleeing the approaching storm. Your car is likely full of hastily gathered clothes, food, pets, important papers, photographs and other irreplaceable mementos.

What about the other valuables you might have - collectibles, books, antiques, the art collection, Oriental rugs, silver, china, linens and fine crystal?

Because flooding and windblown rain can wreak havoc on paintings, paper, upholstery and wood, we consulted local experts responsible for treasures in particularly vulnerable locales.

KEEPING WHAT YOU OWN SAFE IN STORM

WHAT TO DO NOW

- Review your valuables, examining each one carefully and noting any existing damage, the condition of frames and bases, edges and trim. Update the inventory, and add photos, invoices and recent appraisals in case you need to make insurance claims or to help with restoration. Store that in a fire- and water-proof box with other important documents.

- Keep a second copy in a different location, a safety deposit box or with an out-of-town relative.

- Go over your insurance policies, and check with your agent on what is covered, under what circumstances and for how much. Make necessary alterations.

- List phone numbers of insurance agents and companies where your policies are placed, contractors for emergency repair work, friends, neighbors, security and city services providers. Add these to that waterproof box and to your cell phone.

- Go to aic.stanford.edu, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) Web site, and print out instructions for protection, preservation and repair of the kinds of valuables you own. Put those in your safe box, too.

- Make standard surveys: Check/repair windows, doors and roof to make sure the building seal is good; inspect the exterior, noting any potted plants, yard furniture or accessories that you will need to move inside.

- Assemble supplies for pre-storm prep: plywood or other protection for vulnerable windows, tape, plastic sheeting, tarps, blankets and blocks for raising valuables off floor.

- Assemble supplies for post-storm recovery: buckets, cotton mops, aprons, bottles of fresh water for rinsing off saltwater, plastic gloves, masks, trash bags, unbleached paper towels, soft cloths, dehumidifier(s), tarps, camera/film/memory cards for documenting damage.

WHAT TO DO AS A STORM APPROACHES

- Review and follow your AIC protection lists. For example, AIC's "Caring for Your Photographs" recommends removing all potentially damaging materials - paperclips or poor quality enclosures - and storing negatives and prints in separate locations. …