Emergency measures

First steps in case of water damage

The correct first steps in caring for water damaged objects can keep subsequent damages within limits. Rapid drying or freezing of wet objects hinders the growth of mould.


Small, localised water damage

  • Take objects from the moist area into a dry, cool room.
  • Provide good ventilation: open windows, if necessary set up ventilators.
  • Open up books and let them dry standing up.
  • Set single pages and photos out to dry on blotting paper or clean paper.
  • If possible separate photos and art print paper (coated paper) and set up to dry singly. Gelatine photographs and art print paper can become stuck from the effects of humidity.
  • Open books with art print paper and dry the single pages with an electric hairdryer or insert isolating foil.
  • Objects that cannot be dried within 48 hours must be frozen.

Major water damage

  • Remove objects from the danger area into a dry, cool room.
  • Separate slightly moist objects from wet ones. Moist objects can be dried in the air.
  • Wet objects that cannot be dried within 48 hours must be frozen to avoid growth of mould.
  • Books, single leaves, and photographs are to be packed in freezing bags or plastic foil and frozen.
    • Packed objects are to be transported in plastic boxes. The weight of wet objects, especially books, is greatly increased. Do not place too many objects on each other.
    • Keep the temperature cool and provide for good ventilation to prevent growth of mould.
    • When there is a growth of mould store the effected objects separately. When handling these, wear gloves and masks.
    • For further care of damaged objects it is necessary to obtain help from conservators.


    The Institute for Conservation is ready, within the limits of its capacities, to give advice in the areas of conservation and restoration.


    Institute for Conservation
    Josefsplatz 1
    1015 Wien
    Tel: (+43 1) 534 10-322
    Fax: (+43 1) 534 10-321


    last update 2/3/2016