You’re probably less frightened of the garage now than you were as a small child, but ghosts and spiders are the least of your concerns when it comes to garage safety. Many of the most dangerous things about this space are things we put there ourselves.
Making a few simple changes to this overlooked area can greatly reduce the risk of injuries to yourself, your family or pets. Here are a few things to think about when you’re looking to make your garage safer.
1. Store chemicals in locked cabinets
Would you leave containers of powerful solvent, paint and other dangerous chemicals out on the floor of your living room? No. So, why do you do that in the garage? Get these things out of reach of children and pets, preferably in a locked cabinet.
This is especially important with antifreeze. This toxic car chemical has an attractive smell and sweet flavor that can be tempting to children and pets. In addition to keeping antifreeze out of reach, consider switching to a brand containing the bittering agent propylene glycol instead of sweet-tasting ethylene glycol.
Just like you keep medicines and household cleaners up and away inside your home, do the same in your garage. Treat it as an extension of your indoors and apply the same safety rules.
2. Give everything a place
In addition to keeping chemicals locked away, keep your garage organized in general. Sometimes accidents happen because we leave things out and can’t move easily through the garage. Do this long enough, and you’ll end up with a space where you can’t find anything, and where movement is difficult.
Ladders, in particular, should be stored sideways on hooks, rather than vertically propped against the wall. Ladders stored leaning upright can be inviting for a playful child, and it can take just a moment for them to tip backwards.
Try to make a schedule to clean and organize your garage regularly. Even if you think something is out of the way for a savvy adult, it might be somewhere a child could get curious, so get those items high up off the floor.
3. Install lighting
Now that everything has its place and you’ve got cabinets and storage systems installed with labels, you still won’t find something if you can’t see what you’re doing.
Your garage might not have come particularly well-lit, but it doesn’t need to stay that way. Installing a few extra lights can greatly increase safety. Even if things are well organized, there’s always the chance something gets left out. Next thing you know, that innocently placed tool or piece of sporting equipment could become a fall hazard.
Install good lighting to avoid this potential danger, and also consider a motion sensor.
4. Maintain your garage door
Make sure your garage door is well attended to. We often forget that these are large, heavy doors that get put through the stresses of use day in and day out. If pets or children become trapped underneath your garage doors, they can do real harm.
Check your door’s springs and cables regularly to ensure you can roll back the door in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have a working laser in place to detect movement in the way of the door as it closes.
5. Provide ventilation
Even though we know it happens, every year people die of carbon monoxide poisoning. The unfortunate truth is that if you have an attached garage, that gas can also travel into your home.
Carbon monoxide isn’t even the only harmful gas that can be present in a garage. If you regularly work on projects there, you could have other noxious gasses present.
Make sure your garage door offers good airflow, and consider installing additional ventilation if you know there will be harmful chemicals in the air when you’re in there working. Even if the levels are low, exposure to pets and children could have harmful effects. Ventilation will help your garage air circulate.
By making a few simple changes, you can rest easy knowing your garage is another secure part of your home, and your little ones and pets can safely visit and play. That’s worth a little elbow grease one weekend, isn’t it?