Do Hazards Lurk in Your Garage?

Garages and driveways can be dangerous. Here's how to stay safe. 

Safety in garages and driveways, illus. by Ron Chan, image

Watching out for doors, chemicals, and clutter can make garages safer places.

Garages and driveways may not seem like especially dangerous places, but both can harbor life-threatening hazards. Here’s how to keep yourself and others safe in these areas.

Mind the door The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that garage doors and door-opening systems cause more than 20,000 injuries a year. Keep remote controls out of kids’ reach, and make sure your door has a sensor or auto-reverse function that stops it when it comes in contact with an object. When you’re out of town, unplug the remote control receiver and lock the door between your garage and your house.

Keep chemicals secure Store paints, fertilizer, antifreeze, and other chemicals in a locked cabinet, out of reach of children. Keep pets in mind, too: The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center logged 20,436 calls related to insecticide ingestion in 2012, and more than 10,000 related to different household, garden, and auto chemicals.

Be smart about cars Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, and the world’s most common cause of death and injury by poison. Never start or idle your car with the garage door closed. When you come home, lock your car, engage the emergency brake to prevent a rollaway, and put the keys where children can’t get them.

Clear the clutter Messy garages can cause injury: People trip, objects fall. Keep the floor clear by stashing tools and gear in drawers or stackable containers. Store ladders on their sides, clean up spills promptly, keep the space well lit, and make sure your garage has a working smoke detector.

Keep the path clear If possible, keep bikes and toys out of the garage and driveway. If you do allow kids to play in the driveway, place cones or other barriers at the entrance to prevent cars from pulling in.

Beware of blind spots Even with perfectly adjusted mirrors, there will always be areas that can’t be seen from the driver’s seat. Check around your vehicle before you move it, and back out slowly with windows open, listening for children and pets that might dart into your path.

Illustration by Ron Chan

This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)