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Before the flood: Prepare household items for long-term storage

Media contact:

Curt Wohleber
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-5409
Email: WohleberC@missouri.edu

Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Story source:

Connie Neal, 660-359-4040

TRENTON, Mo.—As people brace for floodwaters and the damage they might cause, it’s important to know how to properly prepare household items for long-term storage, said a University of Missouri Extension housing and environmental design specialist.

“Now would also be a good time to take pictures of all furniture and household items and do an inventory,” said Connie Neal. “Protect the photos, inventory and other valuable documents by storing them in a lockbox or other type of fire- and moisture-proof container.” Store irreplaceable photos and negatives flat by placing them between cardboard and taping together.

If at all possible, use a storage facility that is climate-controlled. This will reduce the risk of mold and mildew.

“If the facility is not climate-controlled, humidity will take its toll over time,” Neal said. “Climate-controlled storage facilities are slightly more expensive but well worth it in the end.”

If you have to resort to a facility that is not climate-controlled, there are measures that you can take that will help, she said.

To minimize dust, cover upholstered surfaces by wrapping them tightly and securing with tape, or cover with a large plastic furniture bag. Heavy furniture pads or blankets are also a good way to protect wood furniture from scratches and dust. If time allows, wipe down wood furniture with a mild soap and water solution, then dry and apply either furniture polish or wax.

Shelving can be difficult to store. Solid wood should be left in one piece to store, but tubular or pressboard shelving should be disassembled.

Textiles such as blankets, pillows and draperies store well in airtight plastic storage containers. Clothing stores well in vacuum storage bags. Place mattresses in plastic covers to protect from dust and moisture. These covers are inexpensive and can be obtained from professional movers, truck rental companies and retailers such as Target.

Clean and dry appliances before storing. Don’t store other items inside them. Store appliances upright with doors ajar for ventilation.

Books should be packed flat to protect the spines. Storing in solid plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes will protect them from moisture. Store toys and other small, unbreakable items in garbage bags.

For more information

-“Resources for Your Flooded Home” (MU Extension Publication MP904): http://extension.missouri.edu/MP904.

-Flood-related News, information and links from MU Extension’s Community Emergency Management Program: http://extension.missouri.edu/cemp/flood.

-Missouri River flood information on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoFloodInfo.