Ways to Prevent Garage Fires
- Avoid clutter. We will all admit that garages collect stuff- mostly stuff you don’t want in your home and don’t know where else to put it. Recycling, old boxes, unused clothing, bags of grass clippings, scraps of lumber to name a few. Add old appliances, half empty paint and solvent cans, gas and propane containers, grills, tools and you have created a recipe for disaster.
- Clean up after hobbies. Woodworking, crafting, painting, and staining all leave debris which has a potential for fire which can start long after completion of your project. Water heaters and boilers (often found in garages) can have open flames that can ignite these items. Simply dropping and breaking a light bulb can cause a spark. Halogen lights get extremely hot and bumping it with a car, tripping over it, or having a pet knock it over can easily start a fire.
- Be careful with welding, cutting, grinding; or any work that creates heat and sparks. Battery chargers can also easily cause sparks that can ignite flammable vapors such as brake fluid, lighter fluid, paint thinner, varnish, and gasoline. Obviously, not smoking around these items should top anyone don’t do list
- Don’t overload outlets and electrical circuits. Many garages only have one or two circuits and it is easy to plug in a tool and a heater and overload the breaker or fuse. While we are talking about heaters do not use them with power strips or cords without first checking the amperage that they are rated to handle. Don’t forget that you may have an old refrigerator plugged in somewhere on the circuit. If it kicks on while you are running a saw or heater, something will have to give.
- Never use your gas, propane, or charcoal grill in a closed space. This should go without saying, just don’t do it. And do not store the lighter fluid in the garage either.
- Discard all old paint and rags. If you wish to reuse the rags make sure you store them in a steel bucket with a tight fitting lid or wash them and hang to dry. Store gas and propane in metal containers or at least on shelves in approved cans.
- Never store ashes from cleaning a wood stove or fireplace in or near a flammable container. They can start a fire days after you cleaned the stove.
- Consider a smoke detector or better yet a heat detector which will not go off every time you start the wood sander. Have a working fire extinguisher mounted in a prominent area.
- If your garage is finished make sure the attic hatch cover is always closed. In the event of a fire, the open hatch will draw the fire into the attic and allow it to spread. Consider not installing a pet door if the garage is attached to your home. Having a fire rated door doesn’t do much good if you cut a hole in it and install a plastic pet door to allow the fire into your home.
- In the event of a fire, get out, and close the doors if possible. You do not want to give the fire any oxygen.
SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hopes that you never have to experience a garage, shed, or pole building fire but if you do give us a call the help make it "Like it never even happened.”