Practical ways to protect yourself and your belongings.
When your home or business begins to feel overwhelmed with shoulder-high stacks of paper, piles of boxes, and a garage or storage room full of forgotten tools, it’s probably time to think about a storage unit. Whether you’re diving into spring cleaning or getting ready for a big move, these units provide a useful way to declutter your life.
But there are some risks involved once you turn your personal items over to a storage company. Below, we detail some of the most common issues involved with storage units and what you can do about them.
Rodents and pests
Mice, raccoons, termites, roaches – they can all be unwelcome visitors to your storage shed. Every dark corner can be a warm, cozy nest for them. And just because they haven’t arrived in your unit yet, there’s no guarantee they won’t soon make an appearance. If they’ve found their way into neighboring units, mice can sneak through openings the size of a small pencil and insects only need the tiniest of cracks (as thin as a credit card) to make your unit their new home.
A proactive storage facility will have rodent- and pest-control protocols in place and will provide advice on how to protect your unit. They may also have rules on what you can and can’t store in order to prevent infestations.
Fire and smoke
You can have the best security in place, but no lock will stop a fire from spreading once it starts. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to prevent one from starting in the first place.
First, do your due diligence and make sure the storage facility has fire safety protocols in place. Some questions to ask:
- Does the unit have sprinklers?
- Do professionals inspect the facility annually to make sure it meets local, state, and federal safety regulations?
- Are there modern fire-prevention devices in place, such as detectors, alarms, lights, extinguishers, and monitors?
- Does the staff have basic fire prevention and response training?
- Are the electrical systems and HVAC in solid condition?
But the responsibility for fire safety doesn’t just lie with the owners and operators of the storage facility. It’s also up to you to organize your unit in a safe and sane manner. Leave plenty of space for everything to fit comfortably—don’t cram it full wall-to-wall. An overcrowded unit full of combustible materials is just asking for trouble. And don’t forget that any truly important documents should have their own fireproof safe.
With a combination of personal responsibility and straightforward conversation with the storage facility, you can do a lot to prevent fire damage.
Water in its many forms can be a huge threat to items in storage. In a heavy rainstorm, water can seep through the tiniest cracks in the roof or walls. And an overflowing sump pump or rising groundwater can force water in from the floor.
Even with no rain at all, moisture from humidity can spawn mold and mildew. Be sure your unit has climate control because without it, you risk property damage. The last thing you want to see when you show up to retrieve grandma’s antique recliner is a chair full of fungus. Some units allow you to control the temperature and others manage it for you. If the latter is the case, you can sometimes opt for a higher-priced unit with a private thermostat.
Many of the above issues fall under this general topic. A facility manager that lets pests or rodents run free, has units with gaps that allow moisture to seep in or has broken locks or fencing is one to avoid. If the facility’s physical plant looks shoddy to you, it almost certainly looks that way to potential criminals. You deserve a storage unit that is clean, well-maintained, and routinely inspected.
There are many programs a storage facility can implement to defend against burglary or vandalism, including:
- Monitored surveillance. Strategically-placed cameras throughout the facility will deter most thieves, but in the event that they don’t, 24-hour monitoring will ensure that no intrusion goes unnoticed.
- Password-protected entry. Every gate and door should require a unique access code to gain entry. Not only will this prevent strangers from wandering around, it allows a security team and/or local law enforcement to review any past unauthorized activity.
- Bright lighting. If someone does gain entry to the facility, it can be all too easy for them to hide in dark corners. Bright, well-maintained lighting ensures that criminals have no place to hide – and that they can be clearly seen in security camera footage.
- Employee security practices. The facility should have common-sense security protocols in place for all employees to follow. For example, workers should never carry keys to units without specific owner authorization, they should have IDs that scan in and out for every shift, and so on.
It may take a little more time and effort to find a storage company that follows all of these guidelines. But it’s well worth it to have peace of mind that your belongings are safe.
Do your part
Although it’s important to select a self-storage company that takes security seriously, there are additional things you can do to protect your property.
- Rent an indoor unit. Generally speaking, indoor units are more secure than outdoor units because it’s harder for thieves to reach them.
- Use your own lock, preferably a cylinder or disc lock.
- Keep your key and/or access code private.
- Keep the contents of your storage unit private.
- Make sure your homeowners or renters insurance covers storage units. Some storage facilities require it. Don’t store things in the unit that aren’t covered by insurance.
- Don’t store things that have sentimental value (insurance can’t replace that).
- Keep track of everything you have in storage, including a written list and photos. As the years go by, it’ll become more difficult to remember what’s in the unit. This record helps insurance companies and/or law enforcement in the event of an incident.
Luckily, none of these safety measures is that expensive or time-consuming. Yet they go a long way to securing your prized possessions.
Protect your storage unit with Mobile Video Guard
A storage unit can be as secure as your home or business, but both you and the facility have to work to make that happen. With monitored security, for instance, you can rest easy in the knowledge that someone’s keeping an eye on the things that are most important to you.
The team behind a Mobile Video Guard monitored security solution will always look out for your personal property. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Get started with a free personalized consultation and quote.