No matter where you are in the United States, or maybe in the world, you can face some kind of disaster. Whether it’s four Nor’easters in four weeks, flash flooding, hurricanes, or just a broken sewer pipe in your apartment, disasters strike, usually at the worst possible moment. That’s probably why we call them disasters.

Just today I was speaking with a new tenant who needed storage because of a personal disaster. His landlord was less than prompt with apartment maintenance and the tenant ended up with sewage leaking into his apartment. With two children under the age of four in the apartment, he and his family moved right out. Their disaster may not ever make national or even local news, but for their family it was just as important in terms of health and safety.

So what should you do in the event of a disaster?”

Step 1 in any emergency situation is to get yourself and your family to safety. In my tenant’s case, it was moving his family away from the potentially health-threatening sewage. Once you are safe, then you can catch your breath and proceed to step two.

Step 2 is to call any emergency personnel that need to be involved. In this tenant’s case, the first emergency person to call was the landlord, but this could be to fire, ambulance or police depending on the nature of your emergency. It might also be to your local utility company if the problem is with your gas, water or electric. Once you’ve called the appropriate personnel, stay out of their way. The last thing they need is you hovering over them while they are trying to do their jobs. This is especially important if there is a gas leak or live electrical wires or contaminated water posing a health hazard.

Step 3 is to call your insurance company. Your insurance agent will be able to give you guidance on remediation companies that can help you clean up the mess and minimize your loss. They can also tell you what’s covered while you recover from a disaster. For example, some renter’s insurance may cover some costs of relocating if your former home is uninhabitable. Your insurance agent will be able to help you figure that out. If the disaster that caused your problems was widespread, like a hurricane or tornado, your agent may also be able to help you navigate the confusion of federal disaster assistance.

Step 4 is to get your stuff. Once it is safe to do so, usually as determined by those emergency personnel you called in step 2, you’ll want to return to your home to get your things or at least as many of your things as you can salvage. Before you do that, you may want to call me or another self storage facility near you to have a place to keep your stuff. Sadly, chances are, especially if it was a widespread disaster, you may not immediately be moving into your new home. Whether your staying with family like my new tenant, or finding temporary housing, chances are good that you won’t have room for all your stuff. We’ll be happy to work with you to keep receipts for your insurance company and get your stuff to a safe, dry place while you recover from whatever disaster hit your family.

Step 5 talk to someone about what happened. No matter how big or small the disaster, when it boots you out of your home, it directly impacts your sense of safety. Once you get past the immediacy of the recovery effort, talk to some –a friend, a counselor, or a pastor — about the event. Sometimes just talking about how frustrating it was can help you work through the anger and pain a disaster leaves behind.

No matter what disaster strikes, Spacemall is here to help you keep your stuff safe and help your family recover.