Homeowners think of the garage as a secure place to park their cars and store excess household items, tools and other gear. Most don’t consider the garage a dangerous place, but it can be. Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance System report indicated that about 20 percent of injuries at home occur in the garage or garden. Knowing what garage dangers exist is essential to avoiding them.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You’ve been warned of the dangers of CO, but most don’t realise that carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly and accidentally when a gasoline engine runs in a garage. It can even happen when the garage door is open, if wind is preventing the exhaust from escaping. Those in the garage are at risk, and so are occupants of the house. Avoid CO poisoning by:
- Backing your car out of the garage as soon as you start it
- Never leaving the car running after you’ve entered the garage, for example, while you listen to the rest of a song or complete a phone call
- Never working on your car or other gasoline-powered machine in the garage with it running
According to a study at Iowa State University, CO can reach the Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) level in just a few minutes when a gasoline engine is running.
Fumes from Leaking Gasoline or Chemicals
When your car or a storage container is leaking gasoline, it doesn’t take fumes long to reach the exploding point in a closed garage. If you enter the garage, and there is a strong odor of gasoline or chemicals, do not start the car and don’t strike a match or use a lighter. These actions might cause an explosion or fire. Open the garage door, and then exit the garage quickly to avoid being overcome by fumes.
Falling or Malfunctioning Garage Door
Pinching fingers in the garage door is the most common garage door injury, but the most dangerous are falling doors and breaking springs. Most garage doors are heavy enough to seriously injure an adult or kill a child if they roll down the track to the ground in a free-fall manner. This can occur when a spring or automatic garage door chain breaks. If you know the garage door is broken, have it serviced before using it. Garage doors that are more than five years old should be serviced, even if working properly, and then serviced on an annual basis. Most importantly, this might prevent a serious injury. Additionally, garage doors are like any other mechanical equipment – servicing them regularly can prevent inconvenient product failure and expensive repairs.
Backing Out without Looking
Glancing once in the mirror and then backing out isn’t sufficient. A child can quickly dart into the path of the vehicle, and a backover tragedy can happen. Back out slowly, and watch where you are going every inch of the way.
Hanging Up Heavy Equipment
Putting hooks on the wall and hanging objects from them helps prevent a cluttered garage floor that poses a trip-and-fall threat. If you use this organisation method, be sure that the objects you hang are not heavy or sharp, because children might reach for them, knock them off the hook, and be struck as they fall. Keep heavy, sharp objects well out of the reach of little hands!
An Ounce of Prevention
The dangers described here are all very real, as evidenced by the many tragic stories they produce. The good news is that they are also completely preventable. Take prevention seriously by using your garage properly and having the garage door serviced regularly, and your garage will remain the safe place you expect it to be.