Garage Fire Prevention

Posted 1/18/2017

Does your house have a garage attached to it? The majority of homes in the United States have a garage either attached or in close proximity to it. Because garages have become a standard feature in the majority of American homes there are certain risks are associated with them that need to be understood.

While each garage is different, from where it’s placed to how large it is, every garage can cause damage if not used properly. Too cramped? That’s a hazard. Flammable materials? Also a hazard. About 6,600 fires broke out annually in garages from 2009-2011 that caused an estimated 30 deaths, 400 injuries and $457 million in property loss. (source)

While that number is alarming what’s more alarming is that the majority of those fires reach multiple parts of the home. This means garage fires aren’t just dangerous for the items in your garage like your cars and valuables but because of the proximity to a house those fires pose a risk to the structure of the entire home. This is especially true if your garage is relatively low to the structure, which will cause the fire to spread more quickly.

So here are a few ways you can prevent a garage fire and prevent your entire home from falling victim to that fire.

  • Ensure all the shelving and hangers are well secure. If you have too many items on your shelves or crammed in your moveable cabinets then those can pose a risk for breaking the shelves, and emptying contents all over the garage and exposing materials to other materials that could cause a fire. Always use the appropriate tools and hardware when storing items, especially heavy items, on your shelves.

  • How does clutter play a role in garage fires? Trash, cartons, boxes, and paper can all catch on fire with the speed of light. Crowded garages also hinder firefighting efforts when attempting to put out fires. So next time you go to your garage we suggest emptying any trash and things that just don’t belong in your garage.

  • Keep sharp objects facing down or covered in order to prevent them from puncturing other items like flammable paint thinner.

  • Keep electrical wires covered or in separate drawers. Dangerous situations can arise when wires are left thrown about on the floor of garages.

  • Like sharp objects, small objects like nuts, bolts, screws, and nails need to be securely put away in order to prevent them from penetrating tires or other objects in your garage. Keep them in jars or an appropriate tool kit designed for small objects.

  • If you keep yard or electrical appliances in your garage remember to always turn them off and unplug them after use. Keeping them plugged in could cause an electrical problem, which could possibly cause a fire.

  • Add a fire extinguisher to your garage. If you smell something burning you could arrive soon enough to extinguish it before it spreads. It’ll also be smart if you add a carbon monoxide alarm as well. Just in case.

  • Ask your nearest certified electrician to check the wiring in your garage every so often. This will save you a headache later on and could prevent a fire from starting due to said wiring.

  • Don’t leave flammable chemicals like paint thinner, pesticides, or solvents lying around your garage. Put them in a shed separate from your home.

  • Every couple of weeks spend time tidying your garage. Mop up any spills, vacuum any debris, and trash anything that doesn’t have place in your garage.

Taking the proper steps to ensure your garage is clutter-free and safe is a crucial step in preventing a garage, and by extension, a home fire.