There’s a viral photo going around that implores people to place valuable items, including important documents, in the dishwasher during a hurricane.
The viral Facebook post says: “FLORIDA PEEPS! GOOD ADVICE! EMPTY YOUR DISHWASHER AND PUT ANYTHING YOU WANT TO PRESERVE IN THERE. It’s waterproof and secured to cabinets so it’s more likely to survive a storm. TELL YOUR FRIENDS.”
It comes as Hurricane Irma is set to slam Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States this weekend, affecting potentially tens of millions of people.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, it’s a myth to that valuable items should be stored the dishwasher:
It’s not a good idea to keep valuables in your dishwasher, said Ralph Feldkamp, the owner of Ralph’s Appliance & Air Conditioning Repair in St. Petersburg. Dishwashers don’t keep water out.
Feldkamp said if your home is flooded, so will your dishwasher. He said he sees a lot of flooded dishwashers in Shore Acres. The low-lying neighborhood in northeast St. Petersburg is one of the most flood-prone areas in Tampa Bay.
Besides flooding, extreme wind can tear apart the interior of your residence, including appliances.
“If your dishwasher gets ripped then your valuables are going to be floating around the neighborhood,” he said.
In August 2006, a reader told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that storing things in their dishwasher was a bad idea.
Regarding the tip, “Pack your photographs and important things that you can’t fit into the car in Ziploc bags and put them all in the dishwasher and lock the door, because it’s the only thing that’s waterproof in your house”: That doesn’t work.
I put dishes I wanted to save in my dishwasher. They did not break, but the mud and water in St. Bernard Parish managed to get inside. Photographs stored in a dishwasher would just be little pieces of white paper. Some things I put in Ziploc bags were wet and others were dry. If you put things in Ziploc bags, make sure there are no pinholes in the bag.
The only way to guarantee that pictures will survive is to take them with you. Or scan them into a computer and send copies to several out-of-town friends before you evacuate.
Hoax-debunking website Snopes on Friday, Sept. 8, rated the claim of putting valuable items in the dishwasher as “FALSE.”
“We were unable to locate any stories of people successfully protecting their belongings from flood by storing them in a dishwasher,” the website stated.
However, ahead of Irma, some local news outlets say that it is possible to store important items in your dishwasher.
According to CBS News, “If there are pictures or other small items you’d like to keep safe, try storing them in plastic bags and placing them inside your dishwasher. But first, turn off the water supply to the unit.”
“It’s sealed to keep water in, so it should do just fine keeping it out too,” CBS affiliate WTSP in Florida claimed. “Just make sure all your dishes are taken out before loading up important documents or belongings.”
Florida’s ABC Action News also claimed: “If you’re needing to keep paper documents dry, the dishwasher can serve as a waterproof safe during an emergency storm.”
If you have to evacuate your home, it’s probably best bring important documents like your passport, deed, birth certificate, green card, insurance documents, maybe taxes, state ID, and others with you.