A home garage is convenience, livelihood, and recreation all rolled into one. It provides a secure place to store your car out of the weather and the prowling eyes of neighborhood thieves. A garage is also a great place to service your car — do your own routine maintenance and repairs like changing your oil, inflating tires, replacing belts, bulbs, and air filters. It’s also a great place to store sporting equipment, lawn and garden tools, and old clothes and family heirlooms. Many people also use their garage for recreation — either as an extra TV lounge, yoga studio, meditation center, or workout room.
Yet in spite of — or because of — all these eclectic uses, a garage is also a walking tinderbox, a cornucopia of flammable materials ready to blow.
And since many garages are attached to the house, that puts your very home — not to mention your family — in serious jeopardy.
In fact, there are 6,600 garage fires in homes every year, resulting in an average of 30 deaths, 400 injuries, and $457 million in property loss, according to the U.S Fire Administration.
Here’s how to fireproof your garage so it’s safe.
Check Your Wires
Hands down, electrical malfunction is the leading cause of garage fires. Shorts in wires, overloaded circuits, damaged wires can spark a fire. And since garages are unoccupied most of the time, the fire can spread before it’s even noticed.
Don’t overload circuits. Check to make sure all your wires are up to date. Make sure any electrical boxes and wires are stored in dry areas.
It might be a good idea to have a professional electrician pay your garage a visit for an inspection. This is especially important if you have an older garage with older wires. Safety first.
Store Gas, Firearms, and Fireworks Safely
Store all gasoline in proper containers. Make sure the gas can has no leaks and is out of the reach of children. Store oil in fireproof containers. Keep any fireworks locked away in approved storage containers. Lock up and safely store all firearms.
Make Safety a Habit
Fire safety prevention isn’t just something you establish in your garage in a single Saturday afternoon. It’s an ongoing habit to work into your routine for everything you do in your garage. When you cut sand or wood, for example, the dust and chips become a fire hazard. Make a point of sweeping them up. After you use paint, stain, or solvents, be sure to seal up the containers. Always store them in a safe place. Always dispose of oily rags in a metal bucket with an iron lid. Don’t just throw them in a plastic garbage can. And be careful when doing any hobbies like welding, mechanical work, or woodwork. Pay attention to sparks and where they fly. Make sure all sparks are out before you finish. Sweep up after you’re done.
Invest in Fireproof Garage Door & Entryway Installation
Fireproof doors can protect both your garage and your home. Invest in a garage door of at least 20 proof fire rating. This is especially important in dry areas like Sacramento where wildfires have intensified in the face of climate change. It’s also a good idea to get an interior door with a fire rating of at least 20. This way, if a fire does start in your garage, it will be harder to spread to your home.
Install & Inspect Smoke Alarms in Your Garage
You already know how important it is to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Experts suggest an alarm in each bedroom, in hallways, and on each level of the house, as well as the kitchen. But most people don’t think about the garage. And since a garage is rarely occupied, if a fire does start, it is likely to go undetected until it’s too late. Make sure your garage is installed with a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. Regularly check the alarm to ensure it’s working properly.