Storing Guns During a Hurricane

Storing Guns During a Hurricane

As I write this, large portions of Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida are still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Charleston, South Carolina saw its share of flooding, and the entire east coast is potentially a target for incoming Hurricane Jose. Given the nature of the region affected, a whole lot of gun owners were affected by these storms. This raises an interesting question: as property protection is a vital step in preparing for a storm, what are the best methods for storing guns during a hurricane? Many of us own enough guns that evacuating with them all is going to be difficult—if we are able to evacuate at all. So how can you keep your firearms safe and dry during the storm?

While there are no guarantees of safety during a hurricane—for your guns or anything else you own—there are some steps you can take to stack the deck in your favor. Let’s go over some approaches you can use to help protect your firearms.

Insurance is Key

With your guns, as with all of your possessions, the first step is making sure that your insurance policy is up to date and paid off. Many homeowner’s policies cover firearms, but you will need to document the extent of your collection. Photos of each firearm, along with the make/model/serial number and condition, need to be on record with your insurance company. You should probably have that data saved elsewhere too, both in hard copy and uploaded to Google Drive or a similar cloud service. If worse comes to worse, it’ll help your insurance company process your claim and begin replacing what you’ve lost.

Inspecting Your Storage Situation

With the paperwork out of the way, take a look at how you’re storing your guns. I sincerely hope that most of us have invested in a gun safe of some sort. This is a necessity for both security reasons and for safety from natural disasters. A sturdy safe is at least water-resistant, and strong enough to withstand a collapsed roof. In the aftermath of a serious storm, it will help to ensure that the bad guys don’t raid your stash—particularly if properly bolted to the floor or a concrete slab in a garage.

With that having been said, gun safes are most likely water proof, not water resistant—and they certainly do nothing to protect from the condensation likely to form on metal surfaces in the swinging temperatures and humidity that follow a tropical storm or hurricane. Storing guns during a hurricane has to take these factors into account.

What if you don’t have a safe and are making do with a security cabinet or some other secure(ish) storage approach? Fear not; we’ll discuss how to handle that a bit later when we deal with evacuations.

Storm-Proofing Your Guns

Back in the Long Long ago, there was a lot of information floating around the 2A community about how to bury firearms “just in case” of Soviet invasion, a government ban, or other such calamity. If you want a trip back in time, I recommend taking a look at a few of those articles—I recall that Claire Wolfe wrote one that is alternately informative and hilarious. While I hope the need to bury a firearm is past us in this country, some of the techniques they used can help protect your guns from a hurricane.

The enemy, as always, is moisture and other corrosives. The trick is to give your guns a good cleaning with non-corrosive products—Hoppe’s or Clenzoil for instance—and then lightly lubricating every part with a high quality gun oil. Wooden stocks and grips should be waxed with an appropriate protective product. For burying a weapon, older and wiser heads recommend disassembly and then lubricating each part separately before wrapping it waxed paper. I would suggest that for the relatively short term storage of a hurricane, field stripping and lubricating a gun and then wrapping it in a layer or two of tightly wound waxed paper and then wrapping that package in heavy duty plastic wrap and duct tape would be sufficient.

After that the guns go into your safe. Your safe will benefit if you add a couple of extra desiccant or moisture removal products; while commercial options are best, in a pinch wide mouth bowls of rice and baking soda will at least help—bearing in mind that baking soda is a bit corrosive and should only be used if your guns are wrapped up well. Sealing the door of the safe with caulk or duct tape or both adds yet another layer of protection. Folks in Florida used similar approaches during Irma and the results were better than expected.

Guns Without Safes

So, for whatever reason you don’t have a gun safe. The budget doesn’t allow it, or there’s no room in your apartment, for instance. Never fear, you’re not entirely helpless.

Wrapping your gun like we outlined above is the first step in storing a gun during a hurricane, regardless of your storage circumstances. If you don’t have a safe, I might suggest wrapping and storing the bolts or slides separately in a hidden spot. If the worst happens, you’ll at least avoid arming the bad guys. After that, lock your guns up as best you can—a metal storage cabinet, an unused chest freezer with a lock, or—in an absolute pinch—the trunk of a car parked above the flood line. It’s not ideal, but frankly nothing is when it comes to hurricanes.

What if You Have to Evacuate?

Evacuation is one of the worst parts of a major storm. You’ll be stuck on the highway, likely in bumper to bumper traffic and for hours on end. The atmosphere will be tense, and that tension can lead to violence. Storing your guns during a hurricane is tough, and evacuations make it worse.

If you can take everything with you, do it. Store any guns you don’t want immediate access to in locked cases underneath the rest of the stuff in your trunk. Out of sight is out of mind, and you want to avoid attracting undue attention from both Law Enforcement and your fellow man. If you cannot evacuate with your entire collection, I recommend storing your guns as we discussed above. However, I also recommend taking the bolts or slides of any guns you’re leaving behind with you. Again, you’ll refrain from arming the bad guys if it all goes wrong.

Evacuation might involve out of state travel, so you will want to know the laws which apply to your destination, for both gun ownership in general and CCW in particular. Do some research and form a plan in advance.

What Say You?

If you’ve ridden out a hurricane or two, take a moment in the comment section and let us know what you did to keep your guns secure. Your experiences might benefit someone else and keep them from coming home to a ball of rust instead of clean and well stored firearms. If you’re in a region that’s been affected by one of our recent storms, please hang in there. We’re thinking about you, and we wish you a speedy recovery from whatever damage you endured. If you’re outside of the storm zone, please consider donating the charity of your choice—a whole lot of people need help right now.

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  • Jeff Brady

    What about dry bags and dry boxes if no other alternatives are available?

  • Bdpenn

    I am on the east coast of Florida. In 99 we evacuated with our guns(many). In my younger years I could only afford a double latch steel cabinet. Laying the cabinet on its back in the back of my truck which is covered, I wrapped all the guns in a couple of blankets and laid them in the cabinet and locked it down. Then I placed other items on top of it. I also have every piece of paper, owners manuals and accessory receipt that identifies all of my guns to me or my family members catalogued in a large water proof filing container. Additionally on disc every gun, knife, magazine, holster and other accessories are identified and designated to whom should receive it upon my passing, also recorded in my trust. In 04 and this year we did not evacuate because we were not in a mandatory zone, at 0230 AM Monday we received a flash flood warning and indeed had rising water in the yard. My wife and I placed all of our important documents to the highest points we could find in the house (closets and furniture pieces). We emptied our gun safe and placed all the rifles on the top of it and pistols in the closet. One thing to keep in mind about large safes like mine is since it has deck mounting bolt holes and power cord through point for dehumidifier it is neither water proof or resistant. Fire proof depending on time and temp but water, not so much.
    Also in the past I used to keep my ammo on the shelf of my steel cabinet. Over the years I have accumulated quite the store of ammo. For this I maintain a military ammo box for each caliber. When you buy a can cosmetics are important, but what is critical is the lid seal. Make sure the seal is still plyable and not dried out and hard or cracked. Also the seal is useless if the lip of your can is dented or damaged. For preserving the seal coat it with technical petroleum or Vaseline which is the same thing but medicated probably in most medicine cabinets.
    In my house it’s guns, medicines, documents, underware and a toothbrush. All else is gravy.

  • iggysoup

    Most people have vacuum sealers for vegetables. The rolls are cheap so I just do a good cleaning, put the gun in a bag and seal it up with the machine. Adding a silica gel pack would be good too but the thing is pretty much waterproof as is…

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  • Gluke

    My family and I got out of Houston right before the flooding hit our area. We left right at dawn, so we didn’t have to deal with any bumper to bumper traffic, just high water.

    Most of our guns have sentimental value, so leaving them behind really wasn’t a good option for us, even with insurance. We only have so many soft/hard cases, so I wrapped a lot of the long guns in a blanket, and threw them in the back of our suv. I stuffed most of our handguns and ammo into a single range bag. Even then, some guns/ammo got left behind.

    We keep our safe upstairs, so water damage wasn’t an issue there. The downstairs of our house flooded, but everything on the second floor was fine. I would advise everyone to stuff all your valuables upstairs if possible (or even on a fixed counter top/shelf). This includes clothes that you like, which isn’t something that a lot of people would think about. I lost some good hunting jackets and vests. It would’ve taken me about two seconds to throw them up the stairs. A lot of people lost all their clothes because they left them downstairs. It’s easy to say “clothes are cheap, I can just replace them,” but it sure didn’t feel that way after it happened.

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  • Robert

    Cortec vci is the parent company for bull-frogdotcom. I served in US Army SOCOM…SF and Rangers… and wished we had this while I was in. Today I am a retired engineer and have used the cortec vci for water treatment in a chiller system and the electrical (electri-cor) and had perfect results. Besides their liquid additives, it also goes to a vapor phase level of protection. I found it by accident. While training a police department swat team, I was talking to the designated supply tech on the special operations department. He showed me the product and what he had done. He took 2 45 acp mags and put them in a zip lock bag with seawater and a small amount of the cortec product. Two weeks later, there was no rust. That sold me and I have been using it for nearly 20 years. The bull-frog is the side of the company that sells to individuals. It is not cheap but it will stop your corrosion problems if you use it like you should. As for my weapons and SBR’s. I took it all with me…
    Robert

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