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Storing Your Stuff in Denver? What You Need to Know

While it's not unusual to see snowcapped mountains in mid-summer, if you're new to Denver, you might be surprised at how mild its winters are, especially when compared to other parts of the country. Denver does get heavy snowfalls, typically between October and March, but the average winter temperatures are warmer than most Mid-Atlantic and New England cities, usually ranging from the 40s in the daytime to the teens after dark.

It's the location in the high plains at the eastern edge of the Rockies that actually protects Denver from more severe winter weather. In fact, as City-Data.com points out, "Denver's climate is semiarid and relatively mild, with more sunny days than either Miami, Florida or San Diego, California." With fewer than 16 inches of rain per year and a high altitude (5,332 feet above sea level), Denver has a low humidity that "makes even the highest and lowest temperatures seem less extreme." And it's those conditions that can present some challenges if you decide to store some of your possessions in the Mile High City.

While high levels of humidity (60 percent or more) encourage mites, molds, mildew, rust, paper rot and wood degradation, extremely low levels of humidity can be just as damaging, especially to anything made of wood such as heirloom furniture, musical instruments, craft items, sporting equipment and tools with wooden handles. The key is to find a storage facility that lets you control the climate of your individual storage unit so you can maintain a constant temperature and humidity.

According to Zachary Chetchavat, a blogger for Sparefoot.com, the world's largest marketplace for locating storage units, "Drastic changes in humidity and temperature can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to damage over long periods of time."

The Kansas Historical Society warns that fluctuations in temperature and humidity cause warping and splitting of wood. "A stable environment is the best protection for heirloom furniture. Temperature should hover around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity stay as close to 50 percent as possible. This means, of course, that furniture should never be stored in most basements or attics."

Another consideration is selecting the proper size self-storage unit. Not only can you dent or scratch your belongings by trying to cram them into too small a storage unit, you'll hamper air circulation, which can also encourage the growth of mold or mildew, particularly on items made of paper or fabric.

Proper preparation is important, too. Chetchavat recommends that you polish and wax leather furniture and use a quality furniture polish on wood to keep these items moisturized while in storage.

Planning to store tools? Dennis L. Patton of K-State Research and Extension recommends that you make sure they are clean first, then protect metal parts with mineral oil and the wooden handles with wood oil to prevent cracking.

Humidity control is imperative for proper storage of most musical instruments, especially those that are wood-based. Remove reeds, loosen strings and disassemble any parts than can be taken apart. Since humidity causes wood to swell and metals to corrode, taking these steps will reduce the wear and tear that humidity can cause.

Need to find a self-storage facility? Find a Denver self-storage facility in a neighborhood near you.

"Denver: Geography and Climate", City-Data.com - http://www.city-data.com/us-cities/The-West/Denver-Geography-and-Climate.html

"Furniture Storage Guide: Wood Furniture + Mattress Storage", The SpareFoot Blog - http://blog.sparefoot.com/2876-furniture-storage-guide-wood-furniture-mattress-storage

"Preserving Furniture", Kansas Historical Society - http://www.kshs.org/p/preserving-furniture/12264

"Prepare Garden Tools for Winter Storage", K-State Research and Extention - http://www.johnson.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=599

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Volunteering is the bedrock of community engagement, especially in Denver, where the post-secondary-school student population exceeds 70,000. The Mile-High City is known as a bastion of spirited thinking and civic mindedness. As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says, "Whatever community organization, whether it's a women's organization, or fighting for racial justice…you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way."