Column: From the Desk of the Fire Chief Ron Cust

While many homeowners take the time to safeguard their homes, the garage can often be an overlooked area with potential safety hazards. By inspecting your garage, you can make it a safer place for the whole family.

Prevent Fires
Fires can start easily in the garage where oily rags and other flammable and combustible materials are stored. Keep flammable liquids away from heat sources, and install a smoke detector. Store a fire extinguisher in the garage, and teach the family how to use it properly. Do not attempt to put out a large fire yourself; call the fire department if you are unable to extinguish a fire.

Avoid Burning Fuels
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not run gas-fueled items—such as grills, generators, cars and lawnmowers—inside the garage. Gasoline combustion produces carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless gas that can cause illness and death. Consider installing carbon monoxide detectors in the garage.

Storing Hazardous Materials
Garages are often used to store flammable, poisonous and other hazardous materials such as paint, animal poison, oil and gasoline. Poisonous materials should be stored in high shelving or in locked cabinets that cannot be accessed by children. Many hazardous products come with instruction labels that give storage and usage instructions. Follow these instructions as closely as possible to avoid problems. Make certain to store any flammable materials, such as gasoline, away from any heat sources such as water heaters or gas heaters and areas that receive direct sunlight.

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Storing Tools
Tools in a garage should be stored securely in low traffic areas. Any route that you use in the garage to travel in and out of your vehicles should be clear of tools and other equipment. Use sturdy hooks to hang equipment like bikes and wheelbarrows so that they are out of the way and above the floor. So that they do not clog walking lanes, store ladders horizontally along walls with hooks or sturdy bungees. Keep your tools well-sharpened and clean so that they are easy to use.

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