Christian Vanasse

By Christian Vanasse

March 21, 2021


Storing merchandise: 8 ways to reduce the risks

Article revised on 24 August 2021

Does your business require you to store merchandise? If so, you’re probably aware that fire, theft, temperature variations or water can cause significant damage to your merchandise and threaten the survival of your company. Of course, your commercial insurance could help you cope in these situations, but you’d probably rather avoid them altogether! Here are some tips on how to reduce the risk of having your stock stolen or damaged.

1. Take measures to detect and rapidly extinguish any fires

  • Ensure that your employees know what to do in case of fire and that they know what precautions to take when handling stock. If necessary, give them training so that they are appropriately informed and prepared.
  • Equip your warehouses with prevention equipment that meets compliance standards and is in good working order. This equipment should include:
    • Sufficient smoke detectors for the whole warehouse
    • A fire alarm system
    • Extinguishers
    • Sprinklers placed according to the type of merchandise and the way it is stored (height, various types of storage areas, etc.)

2. Eliminate or monitor the major potential sources of fire in the warehouses

  • Do appropriate maintenance of the building, in particular the electrical system
  • Prohibit all forms of smoking in the warehouse
  • Keep heat sources, such as welding or cutting with a torch, auxiliary heating units and light bulbs, away from merchandise
  • Store explosive or dangerous material, such as propane, outside

3. Organize your merchandise so that it can be reached by sprinkler water in the event of a fire

If your merchandise is stacked high, use shelving units with gaps to allow water to get down to the merchandise at the bottom.

4. Be careful when recruiting staff to reduce the risk of theft and burglary

Before hiring staff, check candidates’ background and references.

5. Take precautions to protect your merchandise from thieves

  • Install a theft alarm system connected to a central monitoring station and set up camera surveillance.
  • Keep particularly coveted merchandise under lock and key.
  • Don’t keep too many valuable articles in storage and be discreet about the quantities in stock.

6. Reduce the risk of water damage

  • Install a non-return valve to prevent potential sewer backups. This will not only protect the merchandise that is stored in the basement, but also your building in the event of major damage that may ensue.
  • If you will be absent or there won’t be much activity during the winter, turn off the water supply, drain the pipes and maintain a minimum amount of heat.
  • Do appropriate maintenance of the building, with particular attention to ensuring the roof, walls, foundations and sprinkler systems are in good condition.

7. Protect your merchandise from water damage

  • Install moisture sensors in the area where merchandise that is vulnerable to water damage is stored.
  • Try not to store any items directly on the floor.
  • Always elevate merchandise that is stored in the basement on a platform.

8. If you store merchandise that is perishable or sensitive to temperature variations, take preventive measures to ensure it is protected in the event of a power outage or air conditioning breakdown

  • Make sure your commercial insurance contract covers your merchandise that is sensitive to temperature variations. If not, add coverage for this merchandise.
  • Work out a plan in case of emergencies with another service provider or company in your area. This way you can come to each other’s aid in the event of an extended outage.
  • Equip your warehouse with a generator to ensure the proper temperatures are maintained in the event of an outage.
  • Install temperature variation sensors in your refrigeration or conditioning units.
  • Tell your employees to leave refrigeration units closed in the event of an outage.

Additional resource: 
Stock security – Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain

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