When it comes to potentially hazardous areas in houses, garages are one of the most overlooked and ignored spots by homeowners.
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 organization 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 space that’s heavily used and an area that’s 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.
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 entire home.
1. Faulty wiring
One of the most common garage safety hazards is faulty wiring. The U.S. Fire Administration identified electrical malfunctions as the leading cause of garage fires. Garage fires are particularly dangerous because they typically go undetected for longer periods. They also spread quickly because they’re fuelled by flammable materials and garage clutter.
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 especially long periods due to environmental factors or other reasons, such as rodents chewing through wiring.
2. Other general electrical issues
Along with faulty wiring, a number of 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 on a permanent basis, 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
3. Garage clutter
Garage clutter doesn’t just prevent you from parking in your garage and maximizing 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 organization solutions. You can keep your garage clean and clutter-free with storage cabinets, slatwall, and specialty storage racks.
4. 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 clearly marked or colour coded, tightly closed, and durable (plastic soda bottles don’t count for the latter). Never mix combustible liquids. Make sure 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 combustible liquids you no longer need.
Another one of the garage safety hazards that’s 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.
5. Improper storage of other hazardous materials
The garage is also where other hazardous materials are found, such as fertilizers, cleaning products, and oily rags. Make sure to always 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, as well as adding an aesthetic upgrade to its appearance.
6. 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 can also be slipping hazards.
A Floortex™ floor coating is one solution that can help. Floortex™ floor coating provides a smooth, attractive surface for your garage. It’s highly resistant to oil, gas, and most household chemicals and allows for spills to be easily cleaned up. And Floortex™ floor coating also has a textured surface, which give you better traction than traditional epoxy floor coatings.
7. General carelessness
Last on our list of the most common garage safety hazards is general carelessness. This can come from a number of 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 properly extinguish cigarettes or cigars (did you know that extinguishing your smoke in an old flower pot or planter can potentially be hazardous?)
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 being responsible with your garage’s safety. You should also consider 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).
For help with making your garage a safer environment, Garage Living can help. Schedule your free in-home consultation to further discuss your numerous options for improving your garage space.