Letter Re: Storing Food in Commercial Storage Spaces?

Hi Jim,

What do you think of storing food at commercial storage sites until you can get the your retreat? Do you think these sites will be targeted and vandalized when TSHTF?

We will be moving north as soon as our house sells. I was wondering if we should move preps to a storage site closer to where we will be moving?

I hope you and your family are able to find comfort in your memories of the Memsahib. Thanks, – Kimberly

JWR Replies: In most of North America, commercial “U-Stor” storage spaces with roll-up doors are not a good choice for storing your food supplies. Inside temperatures temperatures that can exceed 120 degrees F in summer months. This will greatly decrease the shelf life of most storage foods. Traditional warehouses with interior doors have less extreme temperatures, but there you are more likely to have access problems when the Schumer hits the fan. There are some exceptions, in places like Maine, but even there, you have to wonder about stored foods being subjected to repeated freezing and thawing.

Commercial storage spaces are statistically quite safe from burglary. The biggest risk that I’ve seen is people losing track of their storage contract pre-payments, and losing the contents of their storage spaces! (State laws vary widely. In some states, only one notice needs to be sent via mail before forfeiture proceedings can begin. OBTW, in my travels, I’ve seen several storage companies that are co-located with antique furniture stores. I consider that no mere coincidence. Obviously, their are a lot of forgetful, unfortunate, or just plain flaky people that have forfeited the contents of their storage spaces! In my 20+ years of doing guns shows, I’ve met several dealers that regularly bid on the contents of abandoned storage spaces, essentially sight unseen, with varying degrees of success. Typically, the bidders gather, the door is rolled up, and the bidding commences, with the bidders not allowed to enter the storage space. They must base their bids on what they can see through the open door.

Another risk for the contents of commercial storage spaces is flooding. Make sure that you pick a company that has their building on “high and dry” ground, not on a flood plain. But even then, there is always the risk of ruptured pipes, or a malfunctioning fire sprinkler systems. So positioning a layer of inexpensive (or free) wooden pallets under your stored good is cheap insurance.

Ideally, you should store your gear and grub in the climate-controlled home or cool basement of a trusted friend that lives their year-round