A Safe Garage for You and Your Car

Ground floor garages in Philadelphia, PA.

Ground floor garages in Philadelphia, PA.

When a row house is lucky enough to have a garage, it’s usually on the ground floor. Having your garage attached to your home, often with the living quarters located directly above, presents some concerns about the safety of the people who dwell in the home. Not to worry, I happen to have a direct connection to an expert in the area of garages.

Frank Dreitlein, who happens to be my husband, is an auto technician for BMW. I asked him what he considered key issues that row home owners with garages should keep in mind as they set up and use their garages. He says the top three things you need to be mindful of are: things that are flammable, things that are toxic, and security.

All flammable and toxic materials should be stored in appropriate containers. Labeling and dating your containers insure that everything is kept track of and disposed of in a timely manner. Remember to check, on a monthly basis, for any leaking materials. When you dispose of toxic substances, don’t just toss them into the garbage. Consult your local sanitation department to learn the correct way to handle hazardous material disposal. You want to keep any volatile substances like aerosol cans away from any stored gasoline and likewise any acidic substances away from base substances as they will have a violent reaction if they mix. Mr. Dreitlein suggests using sealable, corrosion resistant
storage containers to hold materials in your garage. You can always check with a product’s manufacturer about what containers they recommend for lengthy storage as well as expiration dates. Companies like Garage Cabinets Online offer lockable garage storage solutions that are made especially for automotive related storage.

To optimize home security make sure your garage has sensors that trip your alarm. If you have an interior door that leads into your house, you want to make sure that door is as secure as your outside door.

It’s important to make sure that if you store your car in your garage, that you outfit your home with carbon monoxide detectors. Increased ventilation should be provided by a window, if possible, or louvered wall vents. Mr. Dreitlein suggests using a wire mesh behind any vent to keep debris and small animals from getting into your garage without impeding air circulation.

Mr. Dreitlein also suggests that you keep two fire extinguishers available, one on either side of the garage, so that there is always a safety measure within easy grasp. You should use a type A/B/C extinguisher which covers electrical, combustible liquid and wood generated fires. It seems obvious but many people don’t use safety goggles when working on any automobile. Everyone should. Keep a bottle a fresh water on hand to use as a wash if something should get into the eye area and have a well stocked first-aid kit with products especially made for chemical burns, heat burns and abrasions. A quick response to accidents can make a big difference.

To improve the longevity of your garage floor, you can choose to paint the floor with a special oil retardant paint especially made for concrete floors in garages. This will not only keep your garage looking fresh but also aid in cleaning up spills. Remember that whatever you use to clean up the spills will take on the properties of whatever you were cleaning. For example, you don’t want to throw gas soaked rags in the trash and then later something soaking in battery acid and then when you forget those two things are in there, a match. Not likely but things happen when you’re in a hurry. Disposing of things right away and in the right manner will help prevent any problems.

Most of this is just good common sense, inexpensive to implement, and will make your garage a much more safe and enjoyable place to work on your vehicle.

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