If you are a homeowner, then you know the value of your garage.
It is a place for storing items that need to be out of reach from children and pets and accessible in case of an emergency.
However, many homeowners do not think about the dangers associated with garages until it’s too late.
When it comes to potentially hazardous areas in houses, garages are homeowners’ most overlooked and ignored spots.
So why are garage safety hazards not given the attention they’re due?
It may be because many homeowners consider the garage more of a “separate” area of the home that doesn’t require the same level of organisation and cleanliness found in the traditional interior of the house.
But it’s important to remember that the garage is a vital part of your home.
It’s a heavily used space and an area conducive to safety hazards if proper care isn’t taken. As such, the garage is as deserving of your attention as any other area of your house. Can I find garage storage cabinets to match my style? Absolutely! Even the cabinets in the garage should reflect your unique tastes and style. Garage Storage Solutions offers stylish storage in a variety of materials and finishes.
Know-How To Identify Common Garage Safety Hazards
Any one of the most common garage safety hazards listed below can be found throughout your neighbourhood and perhaps in your very own garage.
Keeping your garage safe isn’t difficult, however.
Stop ignoring these top seven common garage safety hazards and take steps to improve the level of safety for your garage and the entire home.
One of the most common garage safety hazards is faulty wiring.
Garage fires are hazardous because they typically go undetected for more extended periods. They also spread quickly because flammable materials and garage clutter fuel them.
Older homes are more prone to electrical problems, and you should speak to an electrician if you have concerns about your garage’s electrical system (such as an outlet sparking every time you use it).
Older electrical wiring can also deteriorate over extended periods due to environmental factors or other reasons, such as rodents chewing through wiring.
Other General Electrical Issues
Along with faulty wiring, several additional electrical issues can be garage safety hazards:
- electrical circuits that are old and faulty
- overloaded electrical outlets
- improper usage of extension cords (avoid using extension cords permanently, make sure you’re using the right extension cord for the task, and throw out any frayed or worn extension cords)
- light bulbs that are the wrong wattage, which can overload wiring
Garage clutter doesn’t just prevent you from parking in your garage and maximising the space’s usefulness; it’s also a safety hazard.
Stacks of clutter and junk piled high in the garage may not be stable and will also, as mentioned, fuel any fire.
Clutter management in the garage is much easier if you choose some effective garage organisation solutions.
You can keep your garage clean and clutter-free with storage cabinets, Slatwall, and specialty storage racks.
Improper Storage Of Combustible Liquids
Gas, oil, lighter fluid, lawn care products, and paints are just a few of the many hazardous solvents typically stored in the garage.
Improper storage of these liquids can cause fire risks, either from ignition caused by surface contact with a leaking combustible liquid or with flammable vapours.
Store your combustible liquids in containers that are marked or colour coded, tightly closed, and durable (plastic soda bottles don’t count for the latter).
Never mix combustible liquids. Ensure you store them away from any heat sources, including heaters, appliances, and direct sunlight.
If possible, store your combustible liquids in a shed that has good ventilation. Properly dispose of flammable liquids you no longer need.
Another one of the garage safety hazards that are amazingly common is improper propane tank storage.
If you’re putting away your barbecue for the season and storing it in the garage, leave the propane tank outside. Propane tanks are resilient and should never be stored indoors.
Improper Storage Of Other Hazardous Materials
The garage is also where other hazardous materials are found, such as fertilisers, cleaning products, and oily rags. Make sure always to follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions.
One way to keep hazardous materials out of reach from your children is to add storage cabinets to your garage.
Some of our garage storage cabinet systems come with options for locks.
Storage cabinets also give you more storage space in the garage and add an aesthetic upgrade to its appearance.
Tripping And Slipping Hazards
Neglecting the condition of your garage floor and what’s stored on it can create tripping and slipping hazards.
An old garage floor that’s uneven, missing chunks of cement, or filled with clutter can lead to tripping hazards.
Oil or gasoline leaks from vehicles that haven’t been cleaned up are slipping risks, not to mention potentially flammable. Melted snow and ice can also be tripping hazards.
Last on our list of the most common garage safety hazards is general carelessness. This can come from several methods:
barbecuing in the garage when the weather is bad (it happens more often than you’d think)
carelessness when using your garage as a workshop
failing to extinguish cigarettes or cigars (did you know that killing your smoke in an old flower pot or planter can potentially be hazardous?)
Common Dangers In The Garage And How To Handle Them
Slips And Falls
They’re the greatest danger in any garage or storage situation and account for more than 30% of physical injuries.
Usually, stairs in garages aren’t adequately marked or are cluttered and hidden by debris or not-quite-so-organised materials.
Try lining the edges of your steps with reflective tape so they’re obvious (morning, midday and night).
Chemicals, Poisons And Hazardous Materials
People often use garages to store pesticides, pet and rat poisons, pool products, engine fluids, antifreeze, paints, paint thinners and industrial cleaners. The trouble is they’re rarely appropriately stored.
Would you please do your best to keep dangerous or poisonous liquids and chemicals in their original containers, sealed and raised from the floor in a cabinet with solid bottom-row shelving?
Note: For everything flammable or that may pose a threat to fire safety or security, refer to the guidelines and provisions published by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).
Ineffective Or Insufficient Lighting
Let’s face it – often used garages usually have many cramped spaces and tightly packed storage areas.
If you’ve cleaned and organised effectively, this shouldn’t be an issue of anything more than convenience – unless it isn’t bright enough.
Try to have additional lighting apparatus’ and fixtures installed professionally over or near stairs and work areas, and use the brightest bulb your sockets can handle.
If you can’t rewire or accommodate additional fixtures – look into purchasing a portable lamp.
Leaning Ladders (Or Other Large Standing Items)
When large standing items like ladders are stored leaning, they can easily trip and fall on a vehicle, a hazardous materials container, or even an unfortunate passerby.
Lay them horizontally against a wall or from hooks on the ceiling. The same applies to garden and shop tools like rakes, brooms, mops and shovels.
Improper Cords And Wiring
Garage and storage building floors have a tendency – due to their build components and the items we store in them – to get damp and dirty.
This could pose a severe fire or shock risk if you aren’t using the right cords for space. Always opt for outdoor power strips and thick, outdoor extension cords. Check voltage and keep them untangled. Complete your garage organisation plan by getting your gear off the floor with Garage Storage Solutions’ smart shelving and basket storage.
Chemicals And Hazardous Materials
People often use garages to store pesticides, rat poisons, pool products, engine fluids, antifreeze, paints, paint thinners and industrial cleaners.
Keep them sealed in their original containers and raised from the floor on a shelf or in a locked cabinet when storing these products.
Having proper ventilation for your garage is very important to ensure the fumes generated from your vehicle or from any machinery, chemicals or tools you use in your garage are released.
Installing an exhaust fan can help facilitate airflow and can often help to lower the cost of heating and cooling your garage.
Keep The Garage Door Clear
If your garage door is used for storage, it’s still important to keep the entrance clear of boxes, bikes, tools and clutter, so you can efficiently ventilate your garage.
Make sure there isn’t anything leaning up against the door that could fall if the door is opened.
The garage often houses tools, equipment and vehicles, which can make it a dangerous place.
Stacks of clutter and junk piled high in the garage may not be stable and can be a natural hazard when moving around your garage.
Some great storage options can help minimise the clutter in your garage, from storage racks, cabinets, Slatwall and wall hooks.
Start by separating items by category and storing items together. Don’t forget to get rid of everything that’s either not useful or broken.
With the garage often disconnected from the house, having sufficient lighting in your garage is both safe and practical, mainly if you use your garage as a workshop.
Stumbling around for a wall light can lead to accidents or injuries.
If the lighting in your garage isn’t enough, you can install a LED Light, which illuminates your garage from corner to corner and can be operated using either your garage door remote or smartphone via an app.
Research conducted by Merlin suggests that almost one in ten people surveyed have had a family member or pet injured by their garage door.
If you have an older garage door, you might find it becomes weak and unreliable, which is a safety and security hazard for your garage.
If your garage door opener has worn down or frayed springs, it could pose a risk to your family and property as they can cause your garage door to slam shut unexpectedly.
Some older garage doors also have glass panels, which can cause lacerations if they break while opening and closing.
If you have a manual garage door, you could also run the risk of pinched fingers when opening and closing, which can cause serious injury.
Common Hazards And How To Avoid Them
Hazard: Boxes And Other Items Fall On You When You Move Things Around.
When you use your garage for storage, it’s important to carefully label every box and place it in a specific location. Use sturdy shelves for storing items instead of stacking boxes on top of each other.
Ensure these shelving units are securely attached to the wall, and always store the heaviest items on the bottom.
Keep a step stool or short ladder in the garage so you can safely get boxes down off the top shelves.
Hazard: You Open A Box And A Spider Run Out And Onto Your Hand, Biting You.
Use air-tight plastic bins to keep spiders and other insects out of your boxes.
Doing so will also make sure the items you’re storing in the garage aren’t damaged or destroyed.
Also, keep your garage clean and as uncluttered as possible to avoid creating areas for insects or other pests to nest.
Hazard: Sharp Objects Such As Shovels And Other Garden Tools Are Precariously Stored In The Garage And Threaten To Fall Or Trip People.
Install a Gridwall, Slatwall, or pegboard system on one wall of your garage and purchase hooks and other hardware to organise and safely store all of your tools. This system can be used for yard tools, automobile tools, woodworking tools, etc.
Hazard: You Trip Over Items Or Fail To See Things Stored Down Low Or Up High.
Make sure the light bulbs in your garage are the maximum safe wattage for the fixtures.
This will keep the area well-lit so you won’t fall over things and help if you’re using the area for building something or working on your car.
Hazard: The Overhead Garage Door Doesn’t Close Or Latch Correctly, Which Can Create A Security Issue.
Regularly inspect your garage doors to ensure that all hardware is tightly connected and that the wheels are correctly lubricated.
The garage door shouldn’t make any noise when opening and closing, and it should close flush with the floor of the garage.
Hazard: You Trip Over Steps Or Stairs In Your Garage
Please make sure all steps and stairs have sturdy handrails and that they are easy to see. Also, ensure the steps, no matter how few, are built at proper heights and depths.
Hazard: Your Garage Begins To Smell Like Chemicals Or, Worse, Gas.
Make sure all hazardous chemicals are sealed in air-tight cans or jars. Your gas cans should also be securely closed and placed somewhere where they will not be spilled.
For those with children, these containers should be stored outside of their reach or in a locked cabinet, and always follow all storage directions on the containers.
Before refuelling lawn mowers and other items, take them outdoors.
Hazard: You Have Equipment In Your Garage That Is Flammable Or Could Start A Fire.
Never store gasoline in the same space with any equipment that has a pilot light—it could spark and cause a fire.
Also, make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your garage along with a carbon monoxide detector.
Garage Safety Tips
In addition to the hazards listed above, here are a few other safety tips for your garage:
Always open the overhead garage door before starting your car so that the garage does not fill with carbon monoxide. Likewise, shut off your vehicle before closing the overhead doors.
Do not use grills, generators, or other things that emit carbon monoxide or start a fire.
Check your electrical extension cords regularly to ensure they haven’t been chewed on, and be sure you don’t overload your extension cords or outlets.
Keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit in the garage, especially if you plan on using the space as a workshop.
Designate one area of the garage as storage for your kid’s toys and other items so that they know where they are.
This also helps keep them away from more dangerous items in the garage. Make sure you have plenty of space to park your car in the garage if you plan on doing so.
Perform a safety reversal test. Safety reversal test – place an object 40mm above the base of the garage door’s path and set it to close.
If the door doesn’t reverse in less than a second (0.75 seconds) when it touches the object, call our Customer Service team on 1800 638 234.
Mount your door-opener wall button above the reach of small children.
Consider adding the Protector System (Safety IR Beams), which will automatically reverse the door in two seconds if they sense an obstruction.
This can give you peace of mind that your family member, pet or car won’t be caught under the closing garage door.
Awareness is your best safeguard against these garage safety hazards.
Now that you’re aware of the most common garage safety hazards, you can take steps to ensure you’re responsible for your garage’s safety.
It would help if you also considered installing a smoke and heat detector in your garage.
And having a readily accessible fire extinguisher for the garage is also wise (make sure it’s suited to cold weather storage if you live in such a climate). A storage solution from Garage Storage Solutions can transform your garage into a social focal point for visitors with a modern look.