Using the right storage techniques is one of the best ways to keep your possessions in good condition. But when it comes to guns, your storage choices also carry serious safety implications.

“The most important thing is to keep your firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” said Allen Forkner, a spokesman for Cannon Safe, which sells gun safes.

To prevent damage and danger when storing your guns, first you’ll want to clean them thoroughly and unload any ammunition that’s still in the chamber. Avoid wrapping or covering as this can expose your gun to moisture. Always be safe by using locks or safes while in storage, and wherever you leave them make sure the temperature is constant.

Keep reading more about the five tips for proper gun storage.

1. Prepare Your Firearms.

Guns are major investments and often carry sentimental value, so before you store your firearms, thoroughly clean and treat them as directed by the owner’s manual, Forkner said. Can’t find the manual? Apply a very light coat of oil on the entire surface of a gun, he suggested.

Unless you need to quickly fire a gun, you always should unload the firearm’s ammunition before storing it.

2. Avoid Cases and Sleeves.

One of the biggest mistakes Forkner sees is when gun owners store firearms in padded sleeves and cases that are designed only for transporting firearms.

Often, the material in these cases absorbs moisture from the air and puts it directly in contact with the guns, he said. Therefore, avoid wrapping or covering your guns; instead, make sure they’re exposed to air.

3. Pick a Stable Place.

Pay attention to the moisture levels in the area where you’re storing your guns. Too much moisture can cause rust to form, while too little can lead to cracking.

A 50 percent humidity level and 70-degree temperature provide the ideal storage conditions, Forkner said. But if you aren’t able to maintain a 70-degree setting, simply keeping the temperature steady is your best bet.

“The fluctuation between hot and cold is what causes the materials to expand and contract,” Forkner said, “and it’s that constant expansion and contraction that leads to cracks and damage.”

4. Secure Your Guns.

Whether you’re worried about children, burglars or visitors gaining access to your gun collection, always prioritize safety when you’re choosing a storage method—especially in your home.

The National Crime Prevention Council recommends several safety options, including trigger locks that make it impossible to pull the trigger and cable locks that prevent loading and firing. You also can buy a safe or lockbox that can be opened only with a key or combination.

Gun safes are the most secure options and provide the added benefit of holding large collections. They not only keep guns away from unauthorized users, but top-quality safes also can guard against fire for a certain period of time.

“If you can secure [the safes] to the floor or to the wall, that’s even better,” Forkner said.

5. Consider Away-From-Home Storage.

While some owners might prefer to keep their guns outside the home, the options for this type of storage are limited. Self-storage facilities largely prohibit firearms, but you can find a few specialty self-storage facilities that offer on-site cabinets and safes.

Post updated by SpareFoot, 1/30/2017.

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