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Winter vs. Your Memories

By Christian Roemer

Believe it or not, winter isn’t great for your pictures, tapes, and film reels. In fact, it might be the most dangerous time of the year for them.

“Wait a second,” you might be thinking. “Christian, isn’t summer the bad time because of all of the moisture and the heat in the air?” Yes, summer time is mostly bad for your home memories, but that doesn’t mean winter doesn’t have its own perils. In fact, here are the biggest instigators of memory wipage during the cold:

The Cold

In some places of the country, when it gets cold, it stays cold. That’s mostly OK when you’re planning your work outfits for the week, but for delicate pieces of plastic, it can be dangerous. Celluloid and plastic can get especially brittle during the cold months, making them way more susceptible to cracks and snappage. Even worse, you have to be careful if your movies or pictures are cold and you want to watch them. Putting an ice cold tape into the VCR can damage the casing, film, and the VCR. It’s dangerous all around.

Wild Temperature Fluctuations 

For the places that get cold occasionally but don’t stay cold all of the time, winter can consist of wild temperature fluctuations. For example, earlier this week in Tennessee, the day started out at 65 degrees, then by the evening, it was below freezing. Any physical thing expands and contracts with the cold and the heat. It’s just physics. Wild temperature fluctuations can warp photos, tapes, and film.


During the winter, you have to do things you normally don’t do. Most of the time, spreading salt on the ground is a bad thing. When your driveway is frozen, spreading salt on the ground is a good thing. Those types of anti-freezing agents are good for keeping your car from sliding into your neighbors’ living room, but it’s not good for other things. If you trek mud, salt, and grime into your house from the outside and handing your photos and videos, you might accidentally subject them to some bad chemical reactions that can seriously ruin your stuff. It’s not good.

The bottom line is that your pictures, films, tapes, and other memory formats can be fragile and subject to ruin in the winter time. There are definitely things you can do to help protect them. For one thing, don’t leave boxes of tapes, films, and pictures in the sub-0 garage; leave them inside in a closet instead. Other things like the salt just require a bit of hand washing and care.

In truth, the best thing you can do to keep your memories safe is to get them digitized. When you have digital backups of your most precious moments, you can rest easy knowing that even if the winter monster claims some new souls, your memories are safe forever in whatever digital format you choose.

That’s peace of mind that no cardboard box in a closet can ever give you.

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