11 Easy Garage Safety Tips

Every year, there are thousands of garage-related incidents, such as pets getting into antifreeze or children stepping onto rusty nails on the floor.

Instead of treating your garage like a danger zone, this article will cover some super easy steps to help make your garage a safer place. 

Lock Up Dangerous Chemicals

The first step to making your garage safer is to lock up dangerous chemicals or equipment. This covers things like motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline, or ammonia. You want to keep them out of reach of young children and pets wandering around the garage. 

Any poisonous or flammable chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, cleaning products, pool cleaning supplies, car maintenance fluids, or paints should be safely locked away in a secure cabinet. 

If one of these dangerous chemicals spills, it can create a hazardous environment in the garage. Store them high up, out of reach, or locked away. That makes it easier to contain a spill and handle it the right way. 

Knowing exactly where all these chemicals are will help you keep your entire home safer for all. 

Fire Safety

I don’t know about your garage, but there are a lot of potential fire hazards in my garage. 

Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize the fire risk and make your garage as safe as it can be. 

The first step is a continuation of our previous suggestion. That’s to lock away flammable materials like gasoline or oil. 

Another critical step is to ensure that you’ve disconnected all power tools and other plug-in devices from an outlet after you’ve used them. 

Your garage is less insulated than your home and definitely not as water-proof. Wind, rain, or snow can quickly enter your garage and short-circuit electrical outlets and surge protectors. 

This could cause anything plugged into them to catch fire.  

Similarly, keep items that could catch fire like blankets or tarps away from chemicals and power tools. 

It can also help to have your garage’s electrical system inspected at least once a year to ensure all wires and outlets are in good working shape. 

Surge Protector Safety

If your garage is anything like mine, it seems like you never have enough electrical outlets

I have several surge protectors in use at any time, depending on what I’m doing. 

Not only do they add additional outlets where you need them, but they help protect your devices from voltage spikes or too much power. Sometimes, when there’s too much electricity for the surge protector to handle, it could damage the item or start a fire.

Be sure not to overload your surge protector, and NEVER plug a surge protector into another surge protector!

Once you start to plug multiple items into your surge protector, it doesn’t take much to overload it – especially when power tools are involved. 

Maintain Your Garage Door and Opener

According to the NEISS database, there are more than 2200 garage door-related accidents in the United States every year. 

Garage doors need regular maintenance, often nothing more than lubricating the rollers and cleaning the tracks. Periodically, check your garage door hinges and the opener’s belt or chain to ensure it’s in good shape and working correctly.

Rusting or cracked garage door hardware could also mean you should get a new garage door or have your current one fixed, so it is safe to use. 

Get your garage door inspected yearly to prevent accidents from happening. Suppose your garage door opener was made before 2001. In that case, it should be replaced with a newer unit with more modern safety features. 

If you ever see your garage door or opener is not working, do not wait to call someone to repair it. Garage doors that don’t operate smoothly or make funny noises when opening or closing often hide more significant safety issues that need to be addressed. 

Have Good Ventilation in Your Garage

We’ve already discussed that garages are home to many dangerous chemicals and liquids. 

While it’s essential to keep these items securely locked away, accidents still happen. 

If a liquid container breaks or spills, it could result in a highly toxic and poisonous environment. 

For example, bleach and ammonia are two everyday household cleaning products. But if these two liquids interact, the combination of these liquids creates mustard gas, which was used in chemical warfare in WWI.  

Any time you’re storing hazardous chemicals in your garage, it’s vital to have adequate ventilation

One of the best ways to move air around and out of your garage is to have an exhaust fan. 

They’re usually installed in your garage ceiling or on an exterior wall to draw air out of your garage. Then, ceiling fans or wall-mounted industrial fans can circulate fresh air, which makes your garage a much safer place. 

Tool Safety

Just like hazardous chemicals, you need to store your power tools and sharp objects in a safe place and manner. 

For example, power tools should never lie on the floor or be piled into boxes. Instead, securely place them in a cabinet, in a drawer, or hang them on a pegboard

Sharp tools should be stored with the pointed side down so that no one accidentally falls on them or cuts themselves. Wrenches, screwdrivers, and hammers should be stored neatly inside a toolbox or tool drawer. 

Cords are a tripping hazard if not stored away neatly or out of the way, even when they’re in use. Tripping on your power tool’s cord will often cause it to fall as well, possibly cutting or injuring you. 

Declutter Your Garage

Decluttering your garage will make it neater, but it’ll also make it much safer. 

Think about what you have in your garage. 

That means things like a kayak hanging on the ceiling, power tools on the wall, wood boards on the floor, nails on a shelf, or sports equipment in a cabinet. 

If items aren’t properly put away or stored in a safe spot, things could fall from the ceiling or get stepped on, causing injuries. 

Stepping on a rusty screw or getting hit by a hanging mountain bike are serious accidents that happen far more often than you think. 

Cleaning is also an essential part of decluttering your garage. Often, the things we work on in our garage leave dangerous items behind. 

For example, you may change your motor oil in your garage or hammer birdhouses together, and these things can leave behind hazardous chemicals or sharp objects. 

Regularly cleaning and decluttering your garage will go a long way to making your garage safer.

Use Better Lighting

Getting better lighting in your garage is an easy way to stop accidents from happening. We never plan to go out to their garage at night to see if they left their phone in the car, but it happens often. 

Make sure the lighting in your garage is bright enough so you can easily see where you’re walking. Hopefully, you’ve already removed dangerous things like nails and power tools. Still, cardboard boxes and dirty rags have a tendency to appear on my garage floor from time to time.

It’s best not to rely on that one old light bulb in your garage door opener. Instead, use large, bright LED lights that will light your way on your late-night trips to your garage. 

Many people treat their garage lighting as an afterthought. But you should use the best and brightest lights you can in your garage. 

Secure Cabinets and Storage Systems

We’ve touched on this several times already, but using the right garage storage is one of the best ways to make our garage a safer place. 

Many people use metal wire racks or plastic storage containers in their garages. 

Using these items is fine, but you need to make sure to use the proper storage solution for what you’re putting in it. 

For example, using open, heavy-duty shelving to store power tools or shoving all your extension cords into a cabinet drawer isn’t the best idea. 

It would be better to use a dedicated tool chest and a cord-reel to keep them neat, organized, and safe. 

Do not use storage bins or shelves on wheels that could roll into your vehicle or a person.

If you hang things on the ceiling, make sure you’re not putting more weight than your ceiling joists can support. The last thing you want is a canoe crashing through your sunroof or knocking the wind out of you.

If you have kids, remember to lock up anything they shouldn’t get into. It will also guarantee none of your cabinets come flying open, spilling your stuff on the floor. 

Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Suppose you use a portable heater in winter or run your car engine in your garage. In that case, you need to watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning results from inhaling fumes given off by combustible fuel when it’s burned. It’s an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas, and it’s difficult to tell it’s being leaked into the environment until poisoning has already occurred.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to headaches, dizziness, and nausea. If left unchecked, it can quickly lead to unconsciousness and even death. 

When a carbon monoxide leak occurs, your garage can contain it in one potent area or, worse, allow it to leak into your home. 

The most effective way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to provide adequate ventilation and install a carbon monoxide detector. They cost as little as $20, making it easy to buy an extra one and put it in your garage. 

Portable Heater Safety

There are other safety risks with portable heaters, in addition to carbon monoxide. Many homes have burned to the ground due to a space heater exposed to flammable materials.

While space heaters are a low-cost and efficient way to heat garages workspaces, they are also a real risk of fire and injury if mismanaged. Here are a few tips on how to warm your garage with a space heater in winter without burning down your house:

  • Always maintain a three-foot radius around the space heater with absolutely no flammable materials in it. 
  • Turn off all space heaters whenever you leave the room or go to sleep. Space heaters should always be under direct observation in case of a fire. 
  • Be careful and supervise all children and animals around space heaters, as they can cause severe burns with direct contact. 
  • Periodically check your space heater for any signs of corrosion, frayed wiring, or other mechanical damage. Do not use damaged electrical heaters—instead, have them fixed by an appliance repair tech or replace them. It isn’t worth the risk. 
  • Look for space heaters with preventative designs, such as heating element guards and automatic shut-off features. 
  • Before refueling a propane or kerosene heater, turn it off and make sure it is completely cooled before adding fuel. Wipe up any spills of combustible fluids carefully to maintain the three-foot radius of safety.