Preparation is the key to surviving a natural or human-caused disaster. Nevertheless, a survey by the Ad Council found that 62% of respondents did not have an emergency plan in place for their business. Since up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen, self storage facilities intent on surviving the next disaster must be prepared.

Natural or human-caused disasters can affect a self storage facility’s operations and finances by disrupting critical business functions and processes. During and after a disaster, a self storage facility may experience:

  • Lost or delayed sales and income
  • Increased expenses
  • Customer dissatisfaction
  • Repair and replacement costs

To prevent or limit the damage from a disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends developing a preparedness program using these five steps.

Program Management. An effective preparedness program requires leadership, commitment and financial support. Beyond any applicable laws or regulations that may establish minimum standards, each self storage facility must determine how much risk it can tolerate and take steps to minimize the likelihood of exceeding that risk.

A preparedness policy should be developed by management and distributed to staff. The policy should define roles and responsibilities. Select employees should be given the authority to develop the program and keep it current. The policy should also define the general goals and objectives of the preparedness program, such as:

  • Protecting the life and safety of employees, tenants, visitors, etc.
  • Protecting facilities, physical assets and electronic information
  • Minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations
  • Protecting the facility’s brand, image and reputation

Planning. Preparing for a disaster requires planning. During the planning process, self-storage facilities should consider all threats, not just those that are most likely to occur. Special attention should be given to threats that are classified as probable and threats that could cause injury, property damage or business disruption.

Implementation. Implementation of a preparedness program includes identifying and assessing resources, writing plans and developing a system to manage incidents. An effective preparedness program should address:

  • Resource and incident management
  • Emergency response
  • Crisis communications
  • Business continuity
  • Information technology
  • Training

Testing and Exercises. An effective preparedness program requires testing and exercises to:

  • Train personnel
  • Reinforce knowledge of procedures, facilities, systems and equipment
  • Improve individual and organizational performance
  • Identify strengths
  • Reveal weaknesses and gaps

Program Improvement. Self storage facilities must take advantage of every opportunity to improve their preparedness program. After an actual incident, a critique should be conducted to assess effectiveness. Lessons should also be learned from incidents occurring elsewhere.

An effective preparedness program can control a number of risks associated with natural or human-caused disasters. An effective insurance program is needed to protect against those risks that cannot be controlled. Since self storage facilities face unique risks, it helps to have an insurance program that is specifically designed for the self storage industry.

If you would like more information about protecting your self storage facility, please contact.