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Moving & Storage During COVID-19

April 20, 2020

How is COVID-19 Transmitted?

COVID-19 transmission can occur through respiratory, aerosol and contact.  The respiratory transmission has played a role in the spread of the disease. From the beginning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus. As such, it is mainly transmitted between people through “respiratory droplets” when symptomatic people sneeze or cough. Large droplets of virus-laden mucus are the primary mode of transmission, guides the CDC’s advice to maintain at least a 6-foot distance between you and other people. The thinking is that gravity causes those large droplets (which are more significant than about .0002 inches, or 5 microns, in size) to fall to the ground within a distance of 6 feet from the infected person.  A complicating factor is that people transmitting the virus may be asymptomatic at the time.  Coughs and sneezes aren’t necessary to transmit the virus.

Aerosol transmission of COVID-19  has to be somehow able to suspend in the air for long enough to infect passersby.   People emit virus particles in a range of sizes, and some are small enough to be considered aerosols or fine particles that can stay suspended in the air for hours and can travel by air currents across tens of feet. What’s not clear is how long the virus remains infectious in aerosols.

Contact transmission of COVID-19 can occur when viral particles emitted from the respiratory tract of an individual infected land on a surface. Then, another person touches that object, then touches their nose, mouth or eyes. The virus then sneaks into the body via the mucous membranes, infecting the second person.  The severity of this mode of transmission is concerning. One study found that SARS-CoV-2 could remain viable on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours, and plastic and steel for 2 to 3 days.

How Do I Move Safely?

I believe we can safely say that COVID-19 has changed the way we must think about everything, including moving and storage.  During a move, I would be very concerned when any third party touches my contents; there are just too many risks.  If you are moving or planning a move, you should consider reviewing mobile storage as a safe moving option because you’re in complete control of the handling of your items, from packing and loading to unpacking and unloading.

Are mobile storage containers the way to go? Consider the following:

  • You or your family will be the only people who touch your contents
  • A mobile storage box allows flexibility to load and unload on any timeline
  • Renting a portable storage box is a low-cost moving and storage option
  • Does the provider offer contactless service, this should include:
    • The signing of the rental agreement online
    • Payment of service via online credit card or over the phone credit card payment
    • Moving box delivery, pickup or move, requires no contact with the driver

When choosing a mobile storage container provider, consider the following:

  • You should be comfortable that the company promotes its cleanliness and its cleaning process.
  • Are their boxes simply swept out, or is it subject to a thorough cleaning?
  • Does the company pick up a box from one household who has completed their move and deliver this box directly to a new customer? If so, you will want to avoid this provider.
  • Ask the following questions regarding the interior of the container you are planning to rent:
    • Is the interior wall smooth?
    • Is the box a shipping container used primarily to transport goods from China or is the container manufactured for moving and storage. There are many reasons to avoid using a shipping container for moving and storage.

You should use a supplier that provides clean containers and offers containers manufactured for moving and storage that are not shipping containers. It is good practice to read the movers Google reviews, and look for consistent mention of important points like service and cleanliness. The Storage Box is a good example: a Canadian provider of mobile storage has a detailed container cleaning process, which has always been their standard of service. 

When your box arrives, you should take additional precautions like wearing gloves and wiping down surfaces you will have direct contact with. Remember that you control the cleanliness and safety of your move.

Your belongings should be boxed or wrapped in plastic.  When handling your contents, wear gloves at all times.  Any person helping with the loading or unloading process should be a person who is healthy and is a low risk for COVID-19.


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