You probably already know you need to keep your garage and other outbuildings safe from burglaries by taking preventive measures. But have you thought about the safety of your garage?
At SafeStreetsUSA, we want your family safe and sound at home, through good safety habits and a home security system. And we include your garage in that “big picture” description of being safe and sound at home. After all, you might not sleep or eat in it, but you definitely spend time in it working on projects, and count on that garage for storage too!
So let’s make sure that extension of your home is as safe as your home, with a quick review of the dangers you’ll want to be aware of and avoid.
Is there anything as combustible as a garage? Just think through all of the flammable materials stored there, oh my! Gasoline, oil, paint thinner, paint, lawncare chemicals, oily rags…and then you have sawdust and lumber that easily can catch fire on top of all of the incendiary items! So fire prevention should be high on the garage safety list. You can start with these three simple preventive measures:
- Make sure your garage is equipped with a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.
- Keep tight lids on all chemicals and flammable materials, and keep them in their original containers.
- Store chemicals and flammable materials in a safe and secure manner that decreases the chances of something getting knocked over or spilled.
Oh, the poor garage, the dumping ground for all that’s not needed in the house or yard at this time or maybe even never! Sometimes I think garages serve more as really big, huge walk-in closets than places to park cars! I once had a two-car garage built with plenty of room, and overhead storage, and cabinetry—and we still had stuff dangerously piled up and stored!
Storage is a safety issue in your garage for a few reasons. One is the fire hazard mentioned above, but the other more likely one is injury, either from things falling on your head or on your toes. So try really, really hard not to stack! If you’re using shelving, make sure it’s sturdy. If you’re using overhead storage, make sure it’s strong. Think safety over convenience or cost when you’re investing in garage storage. Saving yourself or a family member from an injury will make the investment worthwhile, trust me.
Also think through the storage so anything you need on a regular basis—like a weedeater—is easy to access, while the seasonal items such as holiday decorations can be stored in a harder to access location. Practice the same principle for anything dangerous. Wouldn’t you rather that very sharp saw was easy to reach rather than out of reach?
Even with all the right fire prevention measures in place and the fanciest garage storage unit in use, your habits will still matter when it comes to garage safety. Give your garage a little more thought when you’re using it, with safety always top of mind, and you’ll get into good habits that keep you and your family safe. For example:
- Clean up after yourself after cutting wood, so you’re not leaving sawdust or little pieces of wood lying around as fire starter.
- Resist the urge to pile up storage “just for now,” thinking you’ll get around to putting something away safely and properly later. There’s a good chance “later” will never happen. (I am speaking from experience here!)
- Lock doors to not only keep burglars out, but kids too, especially if you don’t have dangerous tools and materials locked up and out of reach.
- Pick up anything that might be a tripping hazard, such as hoses, extension cords, tools you’re not using, containers of old oil–even those items you’re saving to put away “later.” Try really hard not to store or leave anything on the floor. Period.
- Always have a clear path in and out of the garage. I know that sometimes the piling up is going to happen; it’s inevitable it seems! But don’t pile in such a way that you’re having to clamber over stuff to get in or out of the garage.
Garages are a blessing for busy families for many reasons, and storage and a place for projects are high on that list. However, they can also pose a threat if not managed in a safety-first way. So let’s take a few preventive measures to make sure our garages are a place we can appreciate, not avoid!