Self Storage Don’ts

Last time we talked about how to prevent the most frequently unwanted guests from finding their way into your unit. Obviously, no one wants to open up their space to discover it has been overrun with pests. But there are other things you or the facility managers won’t want to find in your unit; these, however, would have to be placedd there by you. To avoid making that faux pas, here is a brief, but hardly exhaustive, a list of the things you should (and are not allowed at Allstate) to store in your unit!

Explosives, Ammunition, Flamable Liquid

o D’uh right?

Hazardous Materials

o Hazardous materials include anything like chemicals, corrosive liquids, radioactive materials. Speak with your individual facility management team to verify what exactly falls on this list.

Perishables

o Perish the thought! We talked about this one earlier this month, anything that can decompose in your unit will no doubt do so and cause several problems from attracting pests to causing awful smells for you and your storage neighbors.

Living or Dead Creatures

o This includes animals and people. Again, it seems a no brainer but let’s lay it out there. Putting a pet inside a storage unit is cruel and neglectful. As for humans, aside from the obvious illegal ways that may occur, it is also illegal to live or work from a storage unit. They are not built for such purposes, and anyone found to be using their space for such purposes will handle it with the police.

This has been a small, obvious, and far from exhaustive list of the things not permitted inside a storage unit. If you’re ever wondering, a safe bet is anything that needs more attention than setting in a box and forgetting for months at a time is probably not something to put in your storage unit. That’ll do it for us this week at the Allstate Self Storage News Blog, until next time!

Keeping Pests Out

Last time on the Allstate Storage News blog, we offered the suggestion to extend your Spring Cleaning routine to your storage unit. For a variety of reasons, maintaining the upkeep of all your belongings, not just those in your home, is a good idea. We mentioned that keeping an eye out for pests which may have decided to winter in your belongings would be a smart move. Well if that thought put the fear in you, here are some tips to ensure that your storage stuff doesn’t become the home to pests or vermin.

Plastic Containers

While the classic method of storage is the almighty Cardboard Box, it is hardly the most secure means. Rats and other vermin can easily chew their way through the walls of a cardboard box to find their way inside. That’s where the pinnacle of secure storage steps in. Hard plastic containers. While certainly not as cheap as cardboard, they’re also not nearly as flimsy or easily infiltrated by vermin.

No Perishables

Specifically speaking, don’t store food in your unit. If you want to keep anything from choosing yours ashome, this is the biggest thing to avoid. Leaving food in your unit, or containers or dishes that have lingering food smells is an open invitation for animals to find their next meal. Even if pests don’t come in for the food, the rotting of food in your unit can ruin your other belongings.

A few other quick tips for the prevention of pests. On larger items that can’t fit in a plastic container, stuff like furniture, wrap them tight and secure with plastic sheeting to prevent anything from burrowing in. Place traps to catch anything that may find its way inside. Flypaper, mousetraps, etc. If you’d like to prevent most bugs from even entering your unit (and who wouldn’t?) why layout some cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, most insects hate the scent.

Your unit is cleaned and now prepped to prevent any infestations, now you can relax with some peace of mind that your things are safe from all sorts of wrong doers.

Spring Cleaning Your Unit

It’s here! March has come and with it the change of seasons from Winter to Spring. And with Spring comes that most hallowed of seasonal traditions, that’s right Spring Cleaning! While you’re busy getting your home cleaned up to snuff it might be the time to take a look in the old self storage unit and make sure it’s not doing poorly.

If you live in an area that experiences inclement weather, there is the change that the facility received heavy rain or snow. While if any severe storm damage occurred you’d know doubt know by now, there is still the possibility, however slight that moisture found its way inside your unit. Take the time to drive down and inspect your unit for any damage, just like you would when you first rented it. If there is anything out of sort tend to it and inform the facility manager so that they know of the situation, it may be affecting others as well. Moisture can lead to mold growth, and you absolutely don’t want that taking root in your belongings.

The other main thing to search for when cleaning up the unit is the possibility for critters. When the temperatures dropped, there is the chance that pests attempted to make their way into the unit for warmth. Same rules apply, look for any signs of trouble, and possible entry points that may have been utilized and if seen, report to your facilities management crew.

Following those two unit specific tasks out of the way, you can proceed with the average cleaning of dusting and sweeping to ensure your belongings aren’t getting too nasty. Obviously, they’ll be getting dusty in there, but you’d rather not have anything worse brewing in the unit. With that taken care of, you might find the clean space a welcome addition to your Spring Cleaning pursuits at home.

Storage Resolutions

We’re now almost three months into the new year, is it still a new you? Sticking to your resolutions and building new, better habits? We talked about some simple steps to help get off on the right foot but if it hasn’t gone the best here are a few things Allstate Self-Storage can help you conquer!

If the big goal was to minimize your life clutter and live a more harmonious existence, then a storage space will be a big step in the right direction. We’ve previously mentioned keeping the excess stored away in one of our units but what if you know it’s all ‘stuff’ you don’t need? Humans tend to invest our things with emotional value that we have a hard time breaking. Taking the first step of moving it out of the house and into a separate space may be the step needed. Then, after a bit of time, you’ll be able to go back through it with clearer eyes and keep, donate, sell, or junk whatever is necessary.

Most resolutions fall into two camps, do less of a ‘bad’ thing or more of a ‘good’ thing. Exercise, eat fewer sweets, eat more vegetables, that sort of thing. It might be ‘learn _____, ’ and that means creating a new habit. While it may be a new year, chances are you’re still under the same pressures from work and life, and if those are in a rut, you may be finding yourself coming home and sticking to the familiar, plopping down in the living room and binging Netflix for 8 hours (It’s ok! We’ve all done it!) If that is the case, perhaps your environment is setting you up for failure. Why not move the TV/Entertainment set up into temporary storage while you build new habits and new hobbies, then reintroduce the old entertainment options back into your life. It may seem silly to rent a small space just to store your things you’ll want again in three months, but if it helps you stick to your knitting or reading then maybe it is worth a shot?

Alright, that’s the last we’ll talk about the New Year, at this point is decidedly THE year, we wish you the best in your continued efforts to better yourself and remember January 1st isn’t the only time to begin to start changing your life. If you need some space solutions in those plans, you know who to call.

The World’s Most Secure Sites

Last time on the Blog we talked about the future of locks and how that is materializing in the present. This time we want to go one step further and talk about some of the most secure sites on the globe! What follows, in no particular order, are the most secure, locked down areas of humanity, most (not surprisingly) operated by the U.S. government.

Fort Knox

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Fort Knox, the site best known as the storage facility for a large percentage of the U.S. official gold reserves. Surrounded by four fences, half of which are electrified, a military base, 4 feet thick concrete walls, and dozens of locked doors and hallways requiring multiple people with multiple codes, few places are as safe. No wonder it has been seen prominently in fiction as The Most Secure site.

Cheyenne Mountain

The military installation in Colorado Springs, CO built 2000 feet into the mountain. The doors, two 25-ton behemoths can withstand a 30-megaton blast. It houses NORAD and the US Missile Warning Center. With that history, Cheyenne Mountain has featured in plenty of fiction as the place to be when it all hits the fan, whether by nuclear war, the uploading of a human hunting AI, or alien attack.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Another site buried deep into a mountain side, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault houses over a half million specimens of the world’s plant species. Safe from the ravages of a nuclear Armageddon (sensing a pattern here?) the hope is to prevent any accidental loss of genetic diversity in traditional genebanks. Only ~600 miles from the north pole, and protected by miles and miles of oceans, the Svalbard bank is exceptionally remote.

No matter how secure these places are, they’re unfortunately not open for our spare furniture or motorcycles the spouse doesn’t want around the house. For those things, traditional self-storage will just have to do.

All About Locks

Previously on the Allstate Self-Storage blog we discussed the long and varied history of lock making and types. From those ancient Egyptian rope and wood pin locks to the trusty industry standard disc lock that is no doubt securing your unit as we speak! The lock is the hinge on which this whole industry revolves, without a strong lock there is no security and without security would anyone store their belongings out of eyesight? This time, we’re jumping to the Future! With fingerprint features and Bluetooth enabled locks that Future is today!

Electronic Access Locks

Electronic access everything is quickly becoming the norm, so its no surprise that tech is making it’s way to padlocks. Through smart phones or other Bluetooth enabled devices you can open the lock with a swipe of the finger. With being digital, this also means you can give out access to others, setting permissions based on family, friends, coworkers, and even by the time of day.

Fingerprint Padlocks

Another futurelock, are those utilizing the unique key of your fingerprint. Locks such as the recent Tapplock can open in lightning speed with just the touch of your key finger. The Tapplock in particular also looks to have similar features to the electronic access locks mentioned earlier, with smart device utility.

But is the new tech as secure as those of the past? Well, both of these types of locks have that weakness we discussed previously in padlocks. They have the vulnerability of the exposed shackle inherent in padlocks. Some users of older types of electronics locks have also reported malfunctions causing the locks to seize entirely. For the time being, we’d still put our money on the tried and true disc lock, but we are as excited as anybody to see what the future holds when it comes to security.

The Disc Lock

When you imagine the lock on a storage unit, you are likely thinking of a disc lock. A circular hunk of metal with a bar that runs through the latch, these were originally invented by Emil Henriksson in 1907.

These locks work by having a special key that when insert turns the discs like the tumblers of another lock. However, this lock doesn’t utilize springs making them the preferred for harsher conditions that their lesser lock family. This resilience makes the disc lock the industry standard when it comes to storage.

In addition to being resilient to harsher climate, the lock is not easily pickable. While not impossible, it requires dedicated, professionally made tools, and unlike other locks will stand up to a brute attempt at breaking it such as a hammer. The locking system can be destroyed by drilling into the lock directly, but anti-drill plates on the side will easily prevent this. The thief could attempt to grind the lock off, but that would alert anyone nearby at the facility.

There aren’t many negative to the disc lock, at least when it comes to storage. It can’t be cut with bolt cutters, smashed with a hammer, or easily picked. Any move to remove it will generate enough attention to deter thieves from the attempt.

Be careful, though, cheaper locks might be made from inferior materials and allow for the security to be subverted via various means that a well-made lock would otherwise easily prevent.

Regardless of the few possible vulnerabilities in a disc lock, and reputable storage facility will offer several security features to help the cause. Most Allstate facilities, for instance, offer video surveillance, gate coded access, and on site, staff to ensure your belongings are secure and provide you with peace of mind.

We hope you have enjoyed these informational lock lessons, after all, it is a small part of the process but perhaps the most important when it comes to the security of your belongings.

Types of Locks

The past two entries on the Allstate Blog have talked about the history of the lock. During those we spat out a lot of name of types of locks, and if you’re like us, you may have only recognized two or three of them most — including the almighty padlock! Let’s go over some of those types of locks we mentioned recently.

Pin Locks

Also known as the Yale lock or pin tumbler lock. This lock functions using pins of different lengths to prevent the lock from opening. These are found in cylinder locks, where the cylinders can be removed from the framework of whatever they are securing. The vulnerability here is obvious; the lock cylinder can be removed entirely.

Warded Locks

These locks work with obstructions (or wards) that prevent opening. However, these locks have several vulnerabilities making their use generally for low security purposes. A well-made skeleton key can get around most of these wards, and with the limited number of unique possible keys, keys meant for other doors can open others as well.

Lever Locks

A lever lock uses a set of levers (in case it isn’t clear, lock naming is not as creative as the smithing of them) that prevent a bolt from moving. A key will be entered, turned, and in turn lift the levers to a height that allows the bolt to pass through.

Chubb Detector Lock

This lock is a variation on the lever tumbler lock. If someone attempts to open it using the wrong key or pick the lock, it self-jams in a locked state, notifying the owner that it had been tampered with. The self-jam occurs by any of the levers being lifted higher than necessary for the bolt to be removed. Originally it required a special resetting key, but later advancements removed this need.

Next time we’ll talk about the lock securing belongings everywhere, and what features make for the best one. Next time, the disc lock.

History of the Lock Part II: Modern Era

Last month we talked about storage units themselves, this month it’s the locks that secure that unit. Last time on the blog we discussed locks of antiquity, and how they first came about. Of course, all of this is very much a low-level overview of everything, books have been written about the subject matter, but we are just trying to give a general look at the history of securing your belongings.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, locksmithing stagnated for a time until the late 18th century and that mighty time, the Industrial Revolution. With the Revolution, precise engineering and standardization of components, lock technology began to flourish with smaller and sturdier mechanisms.

This era brought us the lever tumbler lock from Robert Barron in 1778, also known as the double lever lock. 40 years later saw more innovation to the lever tumbler lock from Jeremiah Chubb. These new additions (called a detector lock) detected and alerted the owners to any complications or attempts to open the lock without the correct key. Jeremiah joined his brother Charles in the founding a lock company of their own, Chubb.

Over the next century locksmithing flourished. The Bramah lock in 1784 that was unpickable for 67 years. The first combination lock and timelock were made by James Sargent in 1857 and 1873 respectively. The Yale lock of 1843. The first jemmy-proof (a jemmy is a short crowbar) lock in 1916, and finally, the first padlock by Harry Soref in 1924.

Locksmithing hasn’t stagnated in the last hundred years, oh no. It, like so many other industries, has gone digital! With electric locks, key cards, fobs, circuitry, battery backups and all sorts of security measures taking securing of goods into the new millennium.

History of the Lock Part I

Over the next couple of entries here on the Allstate Self Storage Blog, we’ll be talking about something we all use every day, several times a day. They’re on our phones, our houses, our vehicles, at work, and yes, on our storage units. We’re talking about locks. That’s right, those hunks of metal we trust to protect all our valuables of all types. First a little history on locks and keys.

As long as humans have amassed belongings, they have desired to secure them from would be thieves. Originally these existed as simple knots from ropes, leather, and other materials. But that simple line of defense wasn’t enough to be certain your stuff would still be there when you came back. And thus the lock was born.
The earliest known lock was found in the ruins of the ancient capital of Assyria, Nineveh. Wooden pin locks were then developed in Egypt. These worked by pin mechanisms, as you may have guessed, that when a key was inserted pushed the pins out of the bolt allowing it to move. When the key was not present, the pins fall partially into the bolt and immobilize it.

Historians are unsure which ancient civilization created the first mechanical locks, as the Egyptians, Greek, and Romans may have all developed these skills independently of each other. According to the website History of Keys, the next major development was the Roman’s use of metals. This innovation allowed for stronger protection against brute attempts (unlike the knots and wooden locks of yore) but also smaller keys. Some Romans utilized keys with built-in rings allowing them to keep their key always handy but also mark them as people of worth. Not quite the same mentality we have today it?

With that, we’ll close up this time on the Allstate Blog, next time we’ll be moving towards the modern era of locks.