Self Storage Safety Tips Every Tenant Should Know

Jon Fesmire |

When you think of self storage safety, what comes to mind? Two things should: your safety, and that of your belongings. Here, we’ll cover the basics of each so that you will know how to put your items in your storage unit to maximize their safety, and have confidence in your own safety at the storage facility as well.

Physical Safety

Physical safety at a storage facility is about protecting your things—and yourself—from damage. It also covers doing what you can to ensure the safety of your fellow self storage tenants.

How could you do damage to the possessions of others? The primary way this happens is through storing prohibited items. Learn what those items are when you first sign up for your unit, and keep them out of your unit.

Prohibited items include live animals or plants, perishable food, ammunition, and flammable materials. Of course, just about anything can catch on fire. We’re talking about highly combustible items such as gasoline and other chemicals. Most facilities also won’t allow you to store firearms. If you are looking for a place to store yours, you’ll probably need to look into other options for gun storage. The facility you choose may have other prohibited items listed, so make sure you know what they all are.

There are good reasons for prohibiting certain items. Storing animals, of course, is an issue of animal cruelty. Open food containers and live plants attract pests. Pests, like rodents and bugs, will damage your belongings and those of other tenants. If something flammable does catch fire, it can burn down an entire facility.

When preparing those items you want to put in storage, consider using plastic bins that seal well, and ensure there is no extra moisture in them. Otherwise, mold and mildew could grow inside the bins, damaging your belongings. If you’re storing a fridge, defrost it correctly. Failing to do so could cause water damage to your storage unit and neighboring units.

Heavier boxes go toward the bottom, lighter toward the top, of any stack. Stack same sized boxes on top of each other, or go big to small, but not small to big.

Shelving can also be a good addition to a unit, especially if you need to get to lower down boxes. Ask the facility what they recommend. They may have shelving that works perfectly in their units that they can install for you.

If you live in an area with hot and humid weather, cold and dry weather, or weather that goes between those extremes depending on the time of the year, spend the extra approximately 25% to get a unit with climate control.

Safety from Theft

Keeping units safe from theft starts at the facility’s front gate. So, you will want a briefing about the security systems a facility has in place.

Ideally, these will include the following.
  • A Solid Fence - Ideally, this should not be a fence at all, but a concrete or granite wall about eight feet tall.

  • A Strong Gate - The gate should be difficult to climb over, and should open only when a tenant inputs the proper code.

  • Access Control - At the gate and, sometimes, at individual buildings, there should be an access control pad so that tenants can get in, but others cannot.

  • Lighting and Motion Detection - The facility should have a good lighting system that may have motion detection.

  • A Camera System - There should be cameras all around the facility and video screens to monitor them. You will often see these screens in the office.

  • An Alarm System - If someone does break into a facility or an individual building, an alarm should go off. Many facilities will have a security company they work with that also monitors the alarms. Some facilities even have individual alarms on units, so they know exactly where a potential theft is happening and can notify the police.

  • A Resident Manager - When people know that a manager lives on site, they will be less likely to break in. Also, the manager can quickly notify the police in case of an emergency.

In addition to the storage facility’s security measures, take your own precautions. The facility will require you to have a lock for your unit. Make sure you use an especially strong one, like a disc lock or cylinder lock.

Finally, there’s a good way to keep your most valuable items safe, even if, with all that security, a thief does break into your unit. Store them in the back of the unit, and don’t put them in obviously-marked boxes. We’re talking about your jewelry, collectibles, and so on. When a thief breaks into a unit, they want to grab what they can and get away quickly. So, they take items that are easy to pick up and that are close to the door. Keep your less valuable things there.

Armed with this knowledge, once you’ve found the unit that’s right for you, you’re ready for a safe self storage experience.