A garage in your home means having accessible convenience — for cars, storage, parties or even exercise space. Ultimately, what you do with it is up to you. But here’s a startling statistic most people don’t know: 93% of all residential building fires start in the garage, according to FEMA statistics. There are about 6,600 residential building garage fires every year, resulting in 30 deaths, 400 injuries and $457 million in property loss.
In other words, it’s wise to pay attention to fire safety when it comes to your garage. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself as you fireproof your garage to keep your family safe.
Has Your Wiring Been Inspected by a Professional Electrician?
What’s the most common cause of these garage fires? Hands down, it’s faulty wiring, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Electrical fires can be particularly dangerous because they can occur spontaneously when no one’s around — while you’re at work, or worse, in the middle of the night when the family’s tucked in snug for the night. And that brings us to our next point.
Are There Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Garage with Fresh Batteries?
Most people understand how important it is to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in their home, including one in each bedroom and hallway, several on each floor, and one in the kitchen. But do you have one installed in the garage and does it have fresh batteries? If a fire starts in the garage when you’re asleep, it can become a raging inferno before it ever reaches the alarms in the kitchen. Make sure your alarms are installed and working in the garage too.
Does Your Garage Have a Sprinkler System?
It’s a good idea to have a sprinkler system installed in your garage — in fact it’s the law throughout California and Sacramento. Make sure it’s connected and working.
How Cluttered is Your Garage?
Have you considered how much of a fire hazard a cluttered garage can be? Stacks of newspaper are unstable and obvious fuel for a fire. Cluttered tools and equipment can also make evacuation and fire suppression more difficult.
Consider storage bins to help organize and tidy your garage. It will make it easier to find things in your garage as well as make it less of a fire hazard.
Are Combustible Materials Stored Properly?
Gas, oil, lighter fluid and paint are combustibles we commonly store in the garage. Improper storage of these materials is a huge fire risk. Flammable vapors and leaked flammable liquids can cause the whole garage to go up in flames.
Store any combustible materials in proper containers that are clearly marked, fire coded, tightly closed, and durable. (If you’ve got these materials stored in plastic soda bottles, it’s time to find a better container!)
Store these materials away from heat sources such as furnaces, electric heaters, appliances, and direct sunlight. A well ventilated storage shed may work best.
Don’t need any of these materials anymore? Take them to a approved recycling or disposal facility. (Don’t just throw them in a trash can.)