Preventing Fires in Garages and Workshops
Fires in garages and home workshops are a serious matter. The typical garage or workshop contains a host of flammable materials, from liquids such as gasoline and paint thinner to wood, sawdust and greasy rags. Often, garages and workshops contain heat sources such as water heaters and furnaces that can ignite a fire.
As with most things involving safety, the key to keeping your garage or workshop as fireproof as possible is to make sure you have the right equipment and that you get into the habit of making the safest choices.
Here are three steps to garage and workshop fire prevention that everyone can and should take.
Step 1: Establish Safe Routines
If you develop safe habits, fire prevention will become routine.
- When you cut or sand wood, you create sawdust and wood chips. These small pieces of wood are much more combustible than larger boards. Sweep them up right away and you will eliminate a big source of workshop fires.
- After using paint, stain, finishing oils or solvents, seal the containers and store them in a safe place.
- Properly dispose of oily rags to avoid the possibility of spontaneous combustion. That means placing the rags in a steel bucket with a self-closing lid. Alternatively, hang the rags on a line in a single layer to dry. Keep them far away from heat and fire sources.
Step 2: Practice Safe Storage
Fires require three things: fuel, oxygen and heat. Keep those three things from coming together and you have taken a big step in reducing the chances of a fire. Good storage makes that possible.
- Keep all combustibles away from regular sources of heat or fire, such as water heaters, space heaters, furnaces and boilers.
- Store flammable products such as wood finishes, spray paint and paint thinner in a dedicated storage container with a closed door.
Step 3: Buy Proper Safety Equipment
You don't have to spend much money to buy what you need to alert you about a fire or put a fire out before it spreads.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your garage or workshop, preferably stored close to an exit door. See How To Choose a Fire Extinguisher for Your Home.
- Equip the garage or workshop with the proper type of smoke alarm. See Shopping for a Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector.
- Consider installing a sprinkler system, or extending the sprinkler system in your house.