self-storage insider

A Blog by the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network

Winter Prepping Your Self-Storage Facility

winter-storage

It is getting cold out there! As the temperature drops property damage and personal injury increase. These incidents can be costly for a business even if they have insurance. As a self-storage facility owner or manager, it is your responsibility to ensure you protect your customers and your property by winter prepping your facility. Below are some tips from our affiliate network for winter prepping.

Cold Weather Tools

Before the first storm comes in, make sure you have all the necessary tools ordered and ready.  Here are our suggestions:

  • Floor mats at all entrances
  • Caution signs
  • Mop and buckets to clean up wet entrances and puddles
  • A few snow shovels
  • Ice Melt
  • Ice cleats

Before a Winter Storm

Typically, you will hear about a storm for days before the storm actually hits. Use the time wisely to prepare your facility for the storm.

  • Open cabinet doors under sinks and in storage areas to allow heat from the room to circulate around exposed pipes.
  • Insulate all pipes in areas that are not climate-controlled or against outside walls that aren’t insulated. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing. (Note: These must be used with extreme caution. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid the risk of fire.)
  • Make sure the heat is turned on in the building and set the temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
  • Use caulking to seal cracks and holes in the outside walls and foundations near water pipes to keep cold wind away from the pipes.
  • Spread Ice Melt the night before a storm to start on the melting process.
  • As mentioned above, order all tools before the first storm of the season.

After a Winter StormExcess snow

Preparing for winter is very important, but just as important is what you do after a winter storm.

  • Walk around your facility after any winter storms so you can locate any damage or hazards.
  • Clear off large accumulations of icicles and ice in gutters to reduce weight and ensure the free flow of melted water.
  • Keep snow levels on the roof as low as possible to prevent damage to your roof structure.
  • Clear excess snow accumulations around buildings and storage rooms. Melting snow can cause flooding in these areas.
  • Remove snow and ice from any equipment before renting out. (If applicable)
  • Keep the areas around all gas meters free of snow. There are vents on the regulators, and if these get blocked, it is extremely dangerous.
  • Use only a dust mop in the storage units. If you use a wet mop the water from mopping can cause condensation on windows and doors, and potentially cause the doors to freeze shut.

Avoid Personal Injury

Personal injuries increase during winter time as there are more costly slip-and-fall accidents.

  • Immediately clean up water and other liquids that may freeze in the cold weather. Use caution signs to warn others while cleaning up any wet, slippery areas.
  • Mats help prevent falls when there are slippery conditions, but they need to be maintained and properly placed to be effective.
  • Have potholes on your lot? They are easily hidden by snow. Repair them. Use warning tape or cones around repair projects and other hazards until the fix is in place.
  • Immediately identify concerns and address them as soon as possible.
  • Apply Ice Melt throughout the day as necessary.
  • Ensure you and your employees wear proper footwear.  Ice cleats work well in areas that get a lot of snow.  (Do not wear them while driving, operating a fork-lift, walking on dry surfaces or getting in/out of equipment.)

Winter in a storage facilityUsing Ice Melt

Ice Melt works great to keep customers and employees safe. Make sure you use it properly. Here are some mistakes businesses make.

Mistake #1: Not Using It

Do not try to save money or time by not using Ice Melt.  Ice Melt helps to avoid slip-and-fall accidents which can result in very costly accidents.

Mistake #2: Using Too Much

Using too much Ice Melt does not help melt the snow/ice any faster or any better.  Too much can actually cause damage to the vegetation underneath the snow. Manufacturers suggest using a fertilizer spreader or a walk-behind spreader for large areas to spread the Ice Melt.

Mistake #3: Applying It Wrong

For the best results Ice Melt needs to be applied to the ground.  This means it should be applied in anticipation of snow, not after a storm. Before the storms start you should also use a commercial-quality sealant on any surfaces you will use Ice Melt to keep moisture from seeping into pores and cracks in the concrete.  Ice Melt does not damage concrete, but ice can!

Mistake #4: Not Cleaning It Up

Ice Melt that is tracked into your facility can damage floors or cause slip-and-fall accidents.  Reduce the chances of this by using floor mats.

Incident Reports

Should you have damage to your facility or personal injury, make sure to document and report to your insurance as soon as possible.  Consider taking a report from witnesses and grab pictures of any damages for the insurance company.

Winter prepping your self-storage facility can save you from costly damages.  It also helps to protect your employees and customers from winter hazards.

Do you have any tips for winter prepping?  Share in the comments.