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Natural Disasters and How Self-Storage Can Help

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Natural Disasters and How Self-Storage Can Help

According to CNN Business, there were 819 natural disasters in 2019—a number that is slightly below 2018, yet well above the long-term average of 520 per year. Losses from natural disasters in 2018 amounted to $186 billion. The sheer force of Mother Nature can cause significant losses, and lack of preparation can further exacerbate the destruction left by a natural disaster. Depending on where you live, you could face:

  • Blizzards
  • Ice storms
  • Tornadoes
  • Flooding
  • Wildfires
  • Earthquakes
  • Mudslides

Those in coastal areas are more likely to experience a hurricane. Those in the plains of Kansas and Oklahoma are more likely to experience a tornado. Although California appears to be the epicenter for earthquakes, these natural disasters can occur elsewhere in the U.S., and flooding occurs virtually everywhere.

If you are wondering how self-storage connects to natural disasters, then read on!

How Does Self-Storage Help During Natural Disasters?

First, storing your belongings in a secure self-storage unit can help protect them from flooding and other natural disasters. For example, if your neighborhood has been hit with a natural disaster that has left you scrambling to move your precious belongings. Or if you need a place to store your belongings while you are waiting to move back home, self-storage may be the answer you are looking for. In short, a storage unit, along with proper storage techniques, can be a major line of defense for you and your family.

While disaster preparedness involves storing items you may need when disaster strikes, it also involves planning for the storage of your everyday use items. First, here’s a short list of things you should not store in a self-storage unit:

  • Any toxic or biological waste
  • Plants
  • Perishable foods
  • Medical supplies
  • Pharmaceutical supplies
  • Medical equipment
  • Gun powders
  • Loaded guns
  • Flammable items
  • Combustible items

Tips for Using Self-Storage During a Natural Disaster

So now that you know what you should not store in a self-storage unit, consider the following tips for natural disasters and self-storage:

  • Pick the right storage facility. First, choose the right storage facility or the right storage container. You want to choose a facility that is well-built and can withstand fire and other types of weather, to the extent possible. Your unit should be water and air-tight, as well as easy to access. Because storm track has become so accurate, it is a bit easier to find the best location in your city for a storage unit. The topography of the storage location is a key point in location. Since water can ruin virtually anything, if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, choose a self-storage facility that is as far away from large bodies of water as possible. Whenever possible, choose a facility that is above sea-level. Check for proper street drainage, and make sure the units are in good condition with no signs of prior roof leaks and intact weather stripping.
  • Choose the best packing materials. You want to ensure your items are cushioned sufficiently to prevent damage. While newspaper cushions glass items, it can sometimes leave newsprint on more delicate items. Consider bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or even butcher paper.
  • Take extra precautions. Use a large plastic tarp to line the floor. Pack your belongings on top, then fold up the sides of the tarp. Try stacking keepsakes and irreplaceable heirlooms on top of less important belongings or wooden pallets.
  • Try to pack in a logical fashion. Heavier items need to go on the bottom to avoid damage. Avoid packing boxes so full that they are difficult to lift and maneuver. Pack your storage unit so that items you use more often are at the front of the unit with easier access.
  • Label items clearly. We always think we will remember what we packed in that neon pink tote, but in reality, months pass, and we have no idea. You do not want to waste precious time digging through every box in your unit to find a single necessary item. Take the extra time to comprehensively itemize every item in every box. When possible, label boxes on every side so you do not have to move them to find the list of items.
  • If you are storing jewelry or electronics, provide proper protection. Wrap each piece of jewelry in acid-free tissue paper or untreated cotton. You want the most secure storage unit, or a fireproof safe to store in the unit for valuable pieces. Moisture control is crucial for electronics, making a watertight storage unit even more important. When possible, choose a temperature-controlled unit and remember to never wrap electronics in plastic, as moisture can become trapped inside. When storing electronics, remember that no matter how carefully you store them, you should still backup all data on flash drives or external hard drives that you keep in a safe place.
  • When storing paperwork, organize carefully. Should a disaster strike, you will likely need extra copies of all your important papers, such as birth certificates, passports, titles, and critical banking materials. Place all important papers in a watertight container, or a fireproof box, then make sure they are stored at the top of the storage unit.
  • Take special precautions with artwork. If you have a valuable art collection, you do not want it damaged in any way. Cover with a blanket, then bubble wrap, place in a plastic bag, and seal the bag. Rather than stacking artwork on top of other pieces, stand on end, and store side-by-side.
  • Mold, mildew, and moths can damage clothing, shoes, and handbags. Fold clothing carefully, placing in a sealed, moisture-resistant container. Add cedar to help protect against moths.
  • Moisture can damage the finish on furniture. Make sure your furniture is up on pallets, and that your storage facility is as protected as possible from flooding. Cover furniture to prevent dust accumulation, using cotton drop cloths to allow for airflow.
  • If you are storing bicycles, hang from a bike rack whenever possible. This keeps the weight off the bicycle tires, preventing flat spots, and helping to prevent moisture damage as well.

Peace of Mind During a Natural Disaster

Finally, many storage facilities have customizable protection plans to fit almost any need. A storage unit protection plan can cover the belongings in your unit up to a specified amount. A protection plan can offer peace of mind at an affordable price. If the storage facility doesn’t offer a protection plan, ask your insurance agent about including your storage unit in your current home insurance. You might be able to buy a supplemental policy if your homeowner’s insurance does not cover items in your storage unit. If you are storing items in a storage unit following a natural disaster, take extra care to keep your often-used items accessible. Finally, consider storing a disaster kit in an off-site storage facility to give you an “extra” stash in the event your at-home disaster kit is damaged.


About Bonnie Ferrar

Bonnie is a frequent contributor for the USSelfStorage Blog and loves writing about moving and traveling.