This is a response to @Alex516 who asked the following question, which made me think a little deeper on the subject, and I thought it would make a good post:

@Alex516 asked: “I’d be curious about your thoughts for using a storage unit as a layover. I’m thinking about caching some supplies in one on the far outskirts of town as the more I think about it, the less likely it is I’ll be able to defend my home. If I have to high-tail it out of here in front of a hungry mob, being able to grab supplies from a storage location on my way out would give me one more option.   I’ve also be thinking about looking at the more industrial areas to hide out in as there will likely be plenty of empty buildings with fewer looters at least initially. A small storage unit on the edge of an industrial park may be a path to explore. I also may keep an eye on buildings that are for lease because many of them are empty for years. If I know beforehand that these X buildings are empty, it may give me a few places that will be safer to hole up. You can easily find buildings for lease on the internet and an afternoon driving around will tell you what’s empty. Most of the web sites will also tell you how long it’s been listed so you’ll have an idea if it might be a long-term vacancy. Even if you can’t get in them, many have covered areas outside that will make decent shelters. I’m mostly just trying to figure out how to get away from people.”

Good thoughts, Alex. Here is what I think. And keep in mind it is only an opinion. 😉

My thoughts on Storage Units as Shelters:  I “sort of” like the storage unit as a shelter for a very short term timeframe depending on the situation at hand. Considerations you will need to make:

  • Cooking: You probably will not be able to cook anything but readymade meals to keep the smell, smoke, etc. to a minimum.  Think MRE’s and Dehydrated foods that can be reconstituted with water and eaten with little preparation.
  • Light: You will have to block any conceivable area where light can escape. – Noise – Doors on storage units are not soundproof, unless you plan on soundproofing and insulating the door on the backside, you will have to be quiet or at a whisper. And even
  • Hygiene: If you have nowhere to dump a porta potty, then you have a limited timeframe to use the facility. Even for a couple of people you are good for only a few days with one of them, unless you have multiple units.  I am talking strictly about the ones you might take camping with you.
  • Defensibility: I have a theory believe that storage facilities will be pilfered for resources, whether it’s for old dining and kitchen chairs to start a fire with, or for a search for perceived valuables and resources that the looters are trying to procure for trade or other commerce and use. In addition, you will not have the OPSEC to see outside the unit with the door closed, unless you can put a solar charger on the roof, connect it to a couple of deep cycle batteries and set up a small monitor and a couple 12 volt cameras outside in inconspicuous locations…
  • Vehicles:  If you plan on driving to your storage unit or fallback location then you will need a place to hide your vehicle unless you come by motorcycle and can bring it inside with you or unless you have multiple storage units and can park it inside.
  • Water:  Of course you will need ample water depending on the time of year.  I have to imagine it gets hot as hell in those units in the summer.  Assume more than normal if it is 80 – 100 degrees outside…
  • Weather:  Heat in the winter if you have to bug out to your unit in the winter.  You will need adequate ventilation depending on the type of heat source you will be using.  This could be a post of it’s own altogether discussing heat sources that will not emit enough CO to kill you and who you are with.
  • Comfort:  The upside is a storage unit is large enough to blow up an air mattress or to have a few cots that can keep your comfort level high and give you a good night sleep.
  • Communications:  Inside the unless you have communication with the outside world via handled radio, you will be cut off from the rest of the world.  See defensibility above…

Therefore, I think that depending on the type of disaster situation (SHTF) and how far into it you / we may be, storage units may offer temporary solace early on, but as a SHTF gets worse or as it is prolonged, then they will be more at risk for looters.   Your time there should be limited, in my humble opinion…

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think

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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.