Garage fire safety is an issue for every homeowner. Most homeowners don’t think about their garage catching fire but the reality is that over 6,600 garages catch on fire in the United States every year. That’s why we’ve put together a guide on garage fire prevention to help protect your home from an unexpected fire hazard.
Garage Fire Prevention
Clutter is a pretty big problem for those wanting to prevent a garage fire. Often used for more than just a parking spot, the garage can be used to house a plethora of belongings, valuables, and flammables. Adding shelves and containers to store items until needed may help battle the mess. By developing a few safety habits and practicing caution, fire hazards can be easily prevented. In doing so, this keeps fire damage to a minimum and the lives of your loved ones safe.
Use of Electronics and Appliances
The leading cause of all residential garage fires is electrical malfunction. Damaged wires that short out or overload circuits is the primary contributing factor. Practicing caution when using appliances is a great step toward maintaining garage fire prevention.
- You should only ever have one appliance plugged into an outlet. Having multiple cords and appliances only multiplies the chance for a fire hazard outbreak. You should also never use an extension cord while charging an appliance. It may actually be best to tape down all cords and wires to ensure they do not get accidentally yanked from the outlet.
- Heaters and boilers should be kept away from flammable liquids as the sparks can ignite and cause a fire. Even a car battery has a chance to spark under certain conditions and should be removed from potential accelerants.
- All exposed wiring should be repaired or removed prior to performing any work inside the garage. If you happen to use your garage as a workshop, then keep all flammables sealed and removed from the electrical tools. A spark from a saw can ignite the fumes and liquids setting your work space ablaze. Be prudent in cleaning up any sawdust or debris afterwards. Small pieces of wood are far more combustible than the larger pieces.
Proper Storage of Flammables and Combustibles
Seeing as fire only needs a combination of: fuel, heat, and oxygen – It may be in your best interest to keep these things from coming together.
- Never keep flammable products out in the open when not in use. This will include cans of paint, finishing oils, as well as other solvents and flammable liquids. Ensure after every use, that you reseal all containers and store them in a safe place. A dedicated storage container with a closed door is preferred.
- Avoid taking any unnecessary risks with combustibles to minimize the chance for an accidental fire hazard. Ensure that all combustibles are removed from regular sources of heat. Propane tanks are prone to ignition or explosion and should be kept in a storage unit outside of the garage.
Buy Better Safety Equipment
If a garage fire breaks out, your reaction and response time is critical. If left unchecked, it won’t take very long for the fire to reach your living spaces. Having the proper safety equipment in place to alert you to the presence of a fire is crucial.
- Have a heat alarm – not a smoke alarm – installed in your garage. A smoke alarm is not designed to alert you to a fire. It can be affected by a slight change in temperature, humidity, or too much dust. When purchasing a heat alarm, make sure it is hard-wired and installed by a qualified electrician. It’s best to purchase one that comes with a battery backup and can interconnect with your home’s smoke alarms.
- A fire extinguisher is a no-brainer in this situation. Having one on hand that is kept close to an exit door is ideal for fire safety. A fire extinguisher is bother practical and inexpensive making it a smart purchase for every home with or without a garage. You may also consider having a sprinkler system installed to promote further garage fire safety.
Fires that originate inside of an attached garage are more likely to spread to other parts of the home than one that is detached. A garage fire can spread rapidly throughout other areas of your home in very minimal time. For this reason, it is recommended that attached garages be adequately sealed from all living areas.
Installation of the right door can aid in slowing and containing the spread. According to the International Residential Code (IRC), “Openings between the garage and the residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8” (35mm) in thickness, solid- or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8” (35mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.” If you’re in doubt, reach out to our team at R&S Doors and we’ll help.
- To help contain a garage fire from spreading, the doors leading into the home should be self-closing so as not to sit ajar. They should also possess tight seals around the joints to prevent carbon-monoxide fumes from seeping through and into the living areas.
- If the door happens to have a window, then ensure that the glass is fire-rated. Avoid adding pet doors to a fire-rated door in order to maintain its integrity.
Garage fire safety doesn’t begin or end in the garage. Taking the necessary precautions to ensure fire safety begins and ends with you. In disastrous times, there are teams of qualified professionals standing by to assist you. If your garage or home suffers fire damage and is in need of repairs, then don’t hesitate to call your local fire damage restoration team.