Security and Crime Prevention
Although a key characteristic of the self-storage industry is limited foot traffic, the industry has not been immune to the exposure associated with the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the COVID-19 risk, self-storage owners have been required to place greater emphasis on the importance of maintaining a safe environment for customers and employees in terms of sanitation and social distancing. This heightened level of protection is an enhancement to the existing risk management program and complements existing initiatives to protect people and property by maintaining facility security.
Creating and maintaining a comprehensive security plan for a self-storage operation can result in a number of benefits for your self-storage clients. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the potential to reduce criminal activity at the facility, but maintaining a secure facility also provides benefits that make good business sense.
Security features are a key factor in enhancing customers’ perception of a facility, and earning a reputation within the local community as a business that makes security a priority is a positive in terms of keeping existing customers, attracting new ones, and encouraging referrals. Maintaining lights, gates, fences, and doors in optimal condition helps to reduce the risk of bodily injury from slip-and-fall events, pinched fingers, and other hazards as well as property damage from malfunctioning equipment. Minimizing these risks, in turn, reduces the potential for resulting claims and lawsuits. Finally, enhanced security practices may make a business a better risk in the eyes of an insurance underwriter and could result in credits that could lower the overall insurance premium costs.
Here are some factors to consider regarding security. This list is by no means all-inclusive, so be sure to work with your self-storage clients, their legal counsel, or a risk management consultant for advice relevant to a particular operation.
• Premises Inspections – Inspections of the premises should be conducted and documented multiple times each day to include lighting, locks, fences, gates, signage, and surveillance equipment.
• Lighting – Be sure the facility has the proper lighting as may be required by local or other laws or ordinances. Darkness is an asset to criminals and increases the risk of injury, so adequate lighting throughout the operation is critical. Inspect light fixtures, bulbs and automatic switches or timers daily to ensure proper operation.
• Locks – Establish a schedule for making visual checks of tenants’ locks throughout the day. Electronic door locks are becoming more prominent in the industry and can enhance the safety of both customers and employees.
• Fencing – Fencing should be in good repair and suitable for its intended purpose. Inspect fences regularly and make repairs as quickly as possible.
• Security Gates – Custom gate codes and tenant entry via smartphone apps have enhanced security. Be sure to have gates and keypads inspected regularly by a licensed expert, make daily visual inspections, and perform repairs as quickly as possible.
• Online Lease and Payment – Online payment not only enhances efficiency but also is a more secure method of transacting business.
• Signage – Post signs throughout the property to alert tenants to security and operational issues including gate operation, facility rules and regulations, evacuation routes, and fire extinguisher locations.
• Surveillance Equipment – Surveillance equipment should be inspected regularly and maintained in optimal working order to include cameras, motion-activated recording to a digital file, door alarms for individual units, automated alert notifications, and remote-monitoring options.
Your self-storage clients should work with an industry security provider or risk management consultant to conduct an annual audit of their security efforts. That expertise combined with the advice of their insurance agent and attorney can help them establish a comprehensive security plan for their self-storage businesses.
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