As many of us are staring down the throat of Irma at this moment, and many others are recovering from Harvey in Texas, the question of what to do with flooded firearms is bound to come up. While many of us will shuttle our beloved guns into the back of the family vehicle–as much to protect them from looters as storm surge–many others simply won’t be able to do so.

When those unfortunate souls return home and begin the process of rebuilding, the question can be “What do we do with these flooded out guns?”

It’s a fair question. Luckily, our friends over at The Truth About Guns already asked it and even helpfully provided the answer:

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute® (SAAMI®) and National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) point to two helpful documents containing guidelines to assist gun owners in making sound decisions related to safely handling and treating or disposing of these items, emphasizing to always err on the side of caution and safety.

SAAMI, founded in 1926, is an organization that creates and publishes industry standards on firearms and ammunition. NSSF is the trade association for the firearms and ammunitionindustry.

The SAAMI document “Guidance on Firearms That Have Been Submerged or Exposed to Extensive Amounts of Water” points out two major concerns about firearms that have been exposed to water: parts susceptible to moisture and rust damage such as metal parts, wood stocks and grips, and optics; and, secondly, infiltration of the action, barrel and safety systems by grit, silt and other foreign debris.

Always unload firearms before beginning any treatment process.

It’s important to limit moisture and corrosion damage to the component parts of the firearm. This can be accomplished by disassembling the component parts and using up to two coats of a moisture-displacing lubricant such as Hoppes #9 MDL or WD-40 to clean and stabilize the parts while, importantly, following the product’s directions so as not to damage, for instance, plastic or synthetic parts. Another tip is to allow wood stocks and grips to air-dry and not be force dried by exposure to heat.

In addition, have the firearm inspected by someone qualified to do so, like a certified gunsmith. I advise you to go and read the whole thing. It also includes guidelines on dealing with submerged ammunitions as well.

Understand that the amount of time they spend submerged will have an impact. The longer they’re under water, the worse it will be for them.

That said, don’t be stupid. We all love our guns, and I’d like to think the readership here is smart enough to not require anyone saying this, but if I make that assumption, someone will prove me wrong: Guns can be replaced, so don’t fail to evacuate because you don’t want to leave your collection behind. Don’t try to get into flooded areas before it’s safe because you want to try and salvage your guns.

Again, they can be replaced, and while that might be expensive, better to replace a gun than your family to have to buy a casket or pay medical expenses.