October is Fire Prevention Month, with the week of October 9 – 15 having been devoted specifically to fire prevention education and awareness. We think this is the perfect opportunity to talk about garage fire prevention. While most home owners are very conscious about keeping their homes fire-proofed and checking their smoke detectors regularly, they often overlook the garage when it comes to fire prevention measures.
According to the US Fire Administration, garage fires tend to spread farther and cause more injuries and dollar losses per fire than fires that start in all other areas of the home. Just look at these sobering statistics:
* According to 2007 statistics (the most recent year for which complete stats are available), approximately 3% of all home fires in BC originated in the garage.
* The total annual cost average of damages in garage fires in BC is $4,821,040.
* A significant number of garage fires are related to chemicals (i.e. gasoline, motor oil) that are ignited by sparks from vehicles or electrical equipment. Others are related to faulty wiring and exacerbated by flammable chemicals stored in the garage.
* A majority of residential single-family homes with garages do not have smoke detectors in the garage.
* Although residential arson fires are rare, garages are frequently targeted in home arsons.
With all of its flammables and potential fuel sources, garages should be getting more attention when it comes to fire prevention. You can start with these easy tips:
1) Be mindful of potential sources of sparks. This includes your car’s engine and battery, power tools, power cords and outlets and any appliances that are plugged in (spare refrigerator, deep freeze). An accident or electrical short in any of these things have potential to start a fire. Try to keep them away from flammables.
2) Keep your garage door open if you’re working with power tools.
3) Check power cords and outlets regularly for wear, tears or exposed wiring. Keep power cords secured to the floor if possible and close to the walls.
4) Don’t block or cover up power outlets. Give them room to breathe.
5) Don’t overload outlets.
6) Unplug any tools or appliances that aren’t being used.
7) Keep highly flammable items away from potential sources of sparks.
8) Get rid of old car batteries, “empty” motor oil containers and propane bottles (they’re never truly empty) and other potential flammables that don’t need to be saved. (Almost all of these things can go to recycling in Greater Vancouver.)
9) Don’t smoke in your garage. Don’t leave butts in the garage.
10) Regularly go through items stored in the garage and get rid of things you don’t need. Everything in the garage is a potential fuel source. Even though some things ignite and burn faster than others, you should assume that anything you keep in the garage is a potential fuel source. If you don’t need it or don’t plan to use it again, get rid of it. (See recycling in Greater Vancouver, #7)
11) Always keep garage floors clear of debris. Don’t store items on the floor if possible. Hang them, put them on shelves or inside cupboards or work benches. You can even suspend items from the ceiling. Check out our garage accessories page for some practical, surprising and inexpensive ways to store items off of the garage floor.
12) Install a smoke detector in your garage. (It will not only save your garage; it might save your entire home.)
13) Ensure that the door from the garage to the house is fire-rated and well-sealed.
Tailored Living can not only design your custom dream garage, we can also make your space practical and efficient with storage solutions that fit your lifestyle, keep you organized and ensure that you have a proper place for everything in your garage.