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Storing Items during Chicago's
Balmy Summer Months

With average July temperatures in the 80s1 and relative humidity averaging 60 percent,2 there are some questions to ask before storing personal items during steamy Chicago summers.

  • What will high temperatures and humidity do to my heirlooms or electronics?
  • Can humidity really cause mold and mildew?
  • How likely is Chicago to flood?

Understanding weather patterns and their potential impact as well as using a few common sense packing and storing tips will help keep your items safe during even the warmest summer months. This will also go a long way toward keeping you calm, cool and collected about your belongings in case severe weather is predicted.

Know Chicago Weather

Chicago weather, like the city itself, is unique. Located on the fifth largest freshwater body in the world, Chicago is 578 feet above sea level and is crossed by both the Chicago and Calumet Rivers.3 Its geographic location combines with weather patterns to create summers that can be muggy, hot and rainy.

Chicago receives an average of four inches of rain in July, making flooding a possibility in low-lying. Chicago's proximity to Lake Michigan creates the potential for lake-effect rain and higher winds. Combined with relatively high average temperatures and humidity, Chicago weather can lead to localized flood damage, mold and mildew growth, and heat-related damage to storage units and the items they contain.

When selecting a storage unit, carefully consider the geographical location to minimize flood-damage potential. Regardless of where your storage area is located, use pallets or shelving in your storage unit to elevate items off the floor and lessen the risk of damage in case of flood.

Mold and Mildew Impacts

Both mold and mildew can cause irreparable damage to your health and your belongings, making it imperative that you store your items in a safe, secure and dry location. Mold can cause a variety of respiratory complaints. Mildew is most likely to impact paper or fabric items.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends reducing interior humidity to less than 60 percent and increasing ventilation during summer months to hinder mold growth.4 Select a storage unit that provides either climate control to address humidity or ventilation to help prevent mold growth. To protect your items from mildew, pack at-risk items, like bedding and linens, in sealed containers and include a desiccant in each container. Desiccants effectively remove moisture from the air, retarding the growth of both mildew and mold.

Smart Storage

Shielding your items from Chicago's summer weather begins with smart storage.

  • Storage Units - Select a storage unit that offers climate control, heat control, or adequate ventilation. Choose a storage unit located away from the rivers and Lake Michigan so that it is less likely to flood.
  • Proper Packing - Carefully pack your items for storage to prevent mold and mildew growth. Whenever possible pack items in plastic tubs. Unlike cardboard boxes, which absorb moisture, plastic tubs are moisture resistant. Additionally, desiccants should be used in each tub to help control humidity.
  • Set-up - Use pallets or shelving units to keep items off the floor. If your storage unit has a sprinkler system, cover all items with tarps or other waterproof coverings. Use traps for vermin and bugs. If possible, hook up a dehumidifier to further protect your items.

Finally, keep in mind that, while Chicago's average summer temperatures are typically in the mid 80s, warmer weather is also a possibility. If temperatures reach the 90s for even a few days, other problems can occur; these slightly higher temperatures can cause fabrics to rot or turn yellow, and they can damage electronics or even melt plastics.5 If temperatures are soaring in Chicago, a storage unit that is heat controlled, air-conditioned, or has additional ventilation is a must.

Whether you are moving out-of-state and need a temporary home for your things or if you just need extra storage space, a storage unit is an excellent option. By packing your items mindfully of Chicago weather conditions, it is possible to keep them safe and protected in a storage unit or locker. There are many Chicago storage facilities to suit a variety of needs and you can find them online.

1 Weather.Com. "Monthly Averages for Chicago, Illinois," http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USIL0225

2 National Climate Data Center. "Average Relative Humidity (%)," http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/avgrh.html

3 City of Chicago: The City of Chicago's Official Site. "About Chicago," http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/about.html

4 Environmental Protection Agency. "Mold and Moisture," http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html

5 StorageFront.Com. "What Is Climate Control?" http://www.storagefront.com/storagetips/self-storage-basics/climate-control

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