If you’re like most people, your garage is packed with boxes and boxes of stuff. Your best-case-scenario is that you have a tiny bit of clutter to deal with. At worst, your garage contains fire hazards that could pose a threat to your home as well as the overall safety of yourself and your loved ones. Did you know that 5% of house fires start in a garage? To find out how you can prevent a massive headache and a hefty insurance claim, review this list of common garage hazards.
The danger: ERIE typically does not cover garages that are heated by wood stoves and space heaters unless they are in a specially designated sealed-ff area of the garage where hot air is piped in for heat. This is due to the fact that heating devices with an open flame can potentially emit gas fumes that are highly flammable and could cause a fire.
What you can do: If your heating device is cleared for use in a garage, you will want to take a few safety precautions. First, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. This includes items that are combustible such as car batteries, as well as general clutter like piles of rags or stacks of loose papers.
The danger: Wiring, extension cords, plugs, circuit breakers, transformers, light fixtures and battery chargers can cause a fire when they malfunction.
What you can do: Make certain that your wiring and lighting is in compliance with your state’s laws, use bulbs with the proper wattage and do not overload outlets. To ensure that everything works properly, have an electrician install more receptacles so you don’t have to use extension cords.
The danger: Chances are you have a virtual stockpile of flammable chemicals like motor oil, paint, gasoline, fertilizers and lighter fluid in your garage.
What you can do: Don’t smoke inside your garage. All it takes to ignite a fire is one spark. Instead, head out to the driveway or sidewalk. Store any chemicals out of direct sunlight and far away from any heat or ignition sources. Be sure to check containers for cracks or defects.
Vehicle and power tools
The danger: When oil and gasoline from cars, motorcycles, power tools and lawnmowers drips and collects over time, the possibility of a fire becomes very real.
What you can do: Regularly check your vehicles and power tools. If you notice any leaks, clean up the spill ASAP by spreading an absorbent material such as kitty litter over them. Then sweep up and safely dispose of the material before taking care of the repair.
The danger: Ovens, microwaves, charcoal grills and gas grills can ignite the flammable stuff in your garage.
What you can do: They call it a cookout for a reason, so make sure you only use your grill outside and a good distance away from your garage. Propane tanks pose a special danger, so store them outdoors—they’re sturdy enough to handle the elements.
As a final precaution, make sure to stash a fire extinguisher and install a fire alarm in your garage.