Do you cringe when you open your garage door. All of that clutter from sports equipment, power tools, bikes, camping supplies, half-empty paint cans and leaking lawnmowers can be overwhelming, it can also be a safety hazard.
Combustible materials such as fertilizer, paint thinner, pesticides and gasoline can create dangerous fires. The leading cause of garage fires is however electrical malfunction. This can be due to shorts in wires, damaged wires, and overloaded electrical outlets.
Garage fires tend to spread farther and cause more injuries and dollar loss per fire than fires that start in all other areas of the home.
Every year, there are 6,600 garage fires in homes that result in an average of:
- 30 deaths
- 400 injuries
- $457 million in property loss
Of these fires, 93 percent occurred in one and two family homes.
You can keep your home safe by following a few easy tips:
- Store oil, gasoline, paints and varnishes in a shed that is away from your house, and not in your garage.
- Keep items that can burn on shelves away from appliances.
- Make sure that your garage and home’s electrical system is up to date.
- Plug only one charging appliance into an outlet.
- Do not use an extension cord when charging an appliance.
- Have a carbon monoxide alarm installed on your entry level.
- Never leave a vehicle running while parked in the garage, even if the garage door is open.
- Install a heat alarm — not a smoke alarm — in your garage. The heat alarm will sound if the temperature rises too high.
- Allow gasoline-powered tools to cool completely before putting them away.
Fire cannot exist without oxygen, heat and fuel. If you can prevent those three from being together at the same time, you’ve greatly reduced your fire risk. For more garage fire safety tips like buying and installing heat alarms visit www.usfa.fema.gov.