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Heat, Hurricanes and More: Self-Storage Operators Cope With Wacky Weather

Self-storage operators have faced some nasty weather over the last few years. Whether it’s heat or freezing temperatures, storms or tornadoes, the key to keeping yourself, your facility and your customers safe is preparation.

It’s 110 in Arizona today. New Orleans is bracing for Tropical Storm Barry. And a tornado warning was issued for Burlington County, N.J. No matter where your self-storage facility is located, you’ve likely faced some extreme weather over the past few years. From torrential rains and flooding to freezing temperatures, sky-high humidity and heat to fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, we’ve seen it all. Keeping yourself, your storage facility and your customers out of harm’s way is exhausting … yet necessary. Being prepared is key, but you also need to use commonsense.

For places where it’s blazing hot—or the humidity is sauna-like—it can be difficult to keep cool and hydrated. Self-storage operators, thankfully, work in an air-conditioned office for the majority of the day, and stay out of the sun’s damaging rays. That’s not necessarily true for your patrons. Yes, people are known to move in or out of storage unit at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday in 90-degree heat. How can you make sure these folks leave your property unscathed? Beyond offering ice-cold water bottles (with your company logo, naturally), keep an eye out for signs of heat stress including flushed skin, dizziness or confusion. Suggesting a short break in your cool office will likely be appreciated by an overheated tenant.

In the office, be sure to keep the blinds or curtains closed during the hottest time of the day. Stay on top of air-conditioner maintenance to avoid a breakdown and add a fan or two if the air needs a circulation boost. If you do need to head outdoors, smear on sunscreen and wear a hat. Whenever possible, aim to be outside in the early morning or late evening. Always stay hydrated. If a task will be time-consuming, consider breaking it into chunks so you’re not spending hours in the heat.

Hurricanes, tropical storms and tornadoes pose a different kind of threat, and all require major preparation that should be carried out weeks in advance. This includes prepping your property for rain and wind, buying supplies in case you must shelter in place, having an evacuation plan and communicating with tenants. As of Friday afternoon, officials in New Orleans had called for evacuations in two parishes and a state of emergency had been declared in five others. What a nightmare for those who weren’t prepared!

Many cities have also grappled with devastating wildfires in the past year. April Lee, who works in sales and marketing for QuikStor Security & Software, shared her story of being evacuated from her home last fall during the Woolsey Fire in California. Last year, I also interviewed several operators on how they had been affected by floods, fires, hurricanes and other disasters. One thing they all stressed was to be ready for anything that might come your way.

If you’re not sure where to begin, check out the ISS “Disaster” and “Safety” topic pages. You’ll also find additional resources in the ISS Store, including “What to Do When the Nightmare Comes True: Disaster Management in Self-Storage” and “Ready for Anything: Emergency Preparedness for Self-Storage Managers” in DVD and on-demand formats. These wonderful assets will guide you in building the perfect disaster-management plan. You can also get and give advice on Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s biggest online community.

No matter where you live and what weather you’re confronting this summer, stay safe!

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