With autumn settling in, now is a great time to evaluate the hazards in your garage. According to U.S Fire Administration, each year there are 6,600 garage fires in homes. These fires tend to spread farther, go undetected longer, and lead to more injuries and property loss than fires originating in any other part of your home. Most garage fires occur in winter so now is the time to focus on prevention.
- Declutter! The garage can seem like a great place to store belongings, but there is one serious problem – this allows fire to spread more easily and more quickly. We tend to store boxes, old paperwork, old clothing, and other flammable items in our garage. Plus, many of us are guilty of packing the space more tightly than we might in other areas of our home. Now is a great time to get rid of unnecessary clutter.
- Inspect wiring! Now that you have decluttered your garage it will be easier to spot potential electrical problems. Check to make sure electrical sockets are not overloaded and unplug extension cords. Extension cords should never be used on a permanent basis. Look for any signs that wiring might have been damaged, particularly for signs of rodents. If you live in an older home, it might be prudent to have an electrician inspect your wiring.
- Flammable Liquids! With fall underway you are likely getting ready to store lawn maintenance equipment, such as lawnmowers. Remember to use up any excess gasoline that may be in the tank, and never store gasoline, oil, or cleaning solutions near your home as the vapor coming off the liquids can be highly flammable. Also, do not transfer flammable liquids from one container to another while inside your garage to avoid spills on your garage floor or other items stored in the garage.
- Propane Tanks! With grilling season ending you might be wondering where to keep your propane tanks. However, just like the above liquids, even a small leak of propane could spark the air. It is never a good idea to store them in the garage.
- Install a heat alarm! Smoke detectors should be placed in rooms adjacent to attached garages, however it is best to install a heat detector in the garage. Smoke alarms can be set off by car exhaust which results in many people disabling them. A lack of detection is one of the reasons garage fires are so damaging and result in more injuries. Other precautions include keeping a fire extinguisher on hand, installing a 20-minute fire-rated door from the garage into the house, and using appropriately thick gypsum board in walls and ceilings that are shared with the garage.
Garage fires are known to spread quickly, and it is best to take as many steps as you can to prevent and contain them. However, nothing is more important than the lives of you and your family. If a fire should break out, always call 911.