Garage & Tool Safety

Take control of your garage

Starting with the car and ending with gardening tools, there is virtually nothing safe about the garage. Most of us are relatively unconcerned about this adjunct to our homes despite being one of its most dangerous areas. However, if you wonder what you might do to make it safer, the following suggestions may help.

Kids in the garage

The garage should be off limits to toddlers and very young children unless you plan to childproof it with the same care as the house itself. This may not be practical because of the types of equipment and materials we typically store, so it's best to call a spade a spade and designate the garage a kid-free zone. Period.

That said, don't store chemicals, tools, and equipment that no longer serve any useful purpose. Purchase only for immediate use and only as much as you need. Don't stockpile. If there is something leftover, dispose of the container and remaining contents according to the package instructions. Always unplug tools when they are not in use. Use a locking cabinet for materials you absolutely don't want anyone else to handle. And even if stored in a locked cabinet, make sure all chemicals, paint thinner, and gasoline has child resistant caps.

Educate your child to understand that the garage is off limits. It doesn't hurt for them to understand from a very early age that your car, tools, and other things are dangerous and not to be touched without your permission or supervision.

Chemicals and fuels

Many of us store too many household chemicals, garden products, and other hazardous materials in the garage, often without giving it much thought. We may childproof our home from cellar to attic, but the garage or outbuildings may remain untouched. This poses a problem not only for protecting children, but in a disaster such as an earthquake can pose other risks.

Handling gas

Don't store it if you don't have to.

Gasoline storage is regulated by local or state government. Check with your local authority regarding regulations.

Store gas in an approved container away from heat sources. Gas vapors are extremely dangerous. If there is a pilot light, don't store gas at all.

Never store gasoline in the house.

To fill a mower or gas-powered tool, use in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, and only when the equipment is cool.

Never mix gas with other fuels such as diesel or kerosene and never use it as a solvent, fire starter, or other non-fuel purpose.

Many of these products may not even be necessary. Before purchasing a pesticide, herbicide, or toxic chemical compound, find out if there are environmentally safe alternatives instead. Consider going organic in the garden and using "green" products around the house. Every chemical compound we use ends up in the waste stream one way or another so reducing your use of toxic chemicals is a good way to not only protect your family but the planet too.

If you find there is no practical alternative to the hazardous products you need to use, be careful in use, storage, and disposal. Many of us are aware that mixing bleach and ammonia results in toxic chlorine gas that can kill. In the garage, hazardous materials can mix to form equally deadly compounds. Therefore, it's important to make sure everything is stored in unbreakable, leak-proof containers that are clearly labeled. In addition,

All chemicals and hazardous materials that have outlived their usefulness must be disposed of responsibly. Your local garbage company, city, or state environmental agency can provide information about hazardous waste disposal resources. Never pour hazardous materials down the drain. If you are caught—and we sincerely hope you would be—you could be subject to fines and other penalties.

Tool safety

Like the kitchen, the garage is home to a variety of tools. Like kitchen tools, well-maintained tools work better and more effectively than dull tools. They are also much safer.

Garage doors

General garage safety tips

If you need specialized storage to get organized, a carpenter can help you design and build cabinetry that will help you get control of your garage once and for all. Find a qualified pro at ContractorNexus .

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