Known for being nearly indestructible in the face of harsh conditions, shipping containers provide temporary and weatherproof shelter or storage in the event that a building or area has suffered environmental damage. While hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes used to happen only occasionally decades ago, they are rearing their heads more frequently thanks to the rapid progression and impact of climate change.

As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and emergencies often call for creative, outside-the-box solutions that can be deployed and delivered quickly and easily. Shipping containers have been used all over the world in disaster relief where rescue materials and shelter equipment may not be readily available; for example, shipping containers have been used to create stacked, multi-storey emergency housing facilities, kitchens, pop-up hospitals or clinics, barriers, supply storage, planning rooms, containment units, and more.

Their durable nature and ability to withstand jolts and crushing pressures makes containers the perfect candidates for disaster-hit locations. With the help of shipping containers, these five types of units are commonly deployed in disaster relief efforts:

Supply Storage For Emergency Preparedness

There are things you can do to prepare yourself, your loved ones, or your business if the wind should change direction and you need to evacuate due to a nearby environmental event. Clients wanting to add shipping container storage to their emergency preparedness plan often ask about how shipping containers hold up in the face of elements like fire, whether they should store the container on-site or off-site, and whether or not the contents inside their shipping container are likely to be affected by smoke damage, for example.

The Corten steel of a shipping container makes it extremely weatherproof and fire-resistant, and able to withstand harsh weather conditions. Often, new fires are started by airborne sparks and cinders falling on a surface, however, containers are impervious to spark and cinders that fall from a nearby fire.  This is an area where shipping containers truly shine in fire mitigation.  To avoid heat transfer, it is important that containers are not placed beside other structures or large flammable objects.

We encourage everyone to be prepared, and pack up and store a few months’ worth of supplies in advance of seasonal threats to ensure you’re well taken care of if an evacuation order comes.   Read more about including shipping container storage and back-up supplies in your emergency preparedness plan.

Mobile First Aid Stations & Planning Rooms

Restoration companies entrust mobile storage or containerized structures for their relief efforts because they are durable and relocatable, acting as a “pop-up” for short-term clean-ups and moving from place to place.

First aid stations and planning rooms can be easily expanded upon or stacked with additional units, or decreased in size and easily relocated elsewhere to meet the unique needs of each emergency. If a given emergency requires a container to be placed in a tight or remote space – not to worry! We have inched our containers into many unique, tight spots, and we've even dropped them off at a remote location via helicopter!

Temporary Shelter Space

Many natural disasters leave businesses, cities and organizations needing space for emergency housing and shelters. Shipping containers are designed to bear a great deal of weight, typically more than 20,000 lbs. each and they can easily withstand 150 km/hr. winds. Sheltering objects or people in a shipping container is a reliable solution because there is less likelihood of damage or injury if heavy objects or debris, such as trees or rocks, fall on top of a container.

In addition, shipping containers can double as both a shelter and a barrier. Containers have been used to construct barriers around houses that have been destroyed, while also protecting vehicles and pedestrians from falling debris originating from damaged buildings and houses.

Property Restoration

If you ever fall victim to an unfortunate emergency like wildfire or flood evacuations, you will want to contact a local restoration company to assist you through the recovery process. After the incident, you will need to remove affected items from the disaster-hit area and either pack them up for storage or have them cleaned and restored. Temporary mobile storage units can be delivered quickly and stored on-site for ease of access, or taken away to one of our storage yards and kept out of the way of work crews.

Some items are more challenging than others to remove and store, such as wall-to-wall carpeting; these items would likely need to remain on-site for cleaning. Soft items, such as stuffed animals, clothing, curtains and other textiles, usually require cleaning, sanitizing and deodorization in order to remove mold, water damage and any lingering odors. Hard items, such as dishes, plates, electronics and furniture, require deep cleaning using specialized equipment.

Read more about shipping containers in the restoration industry.