BASIC GARAGE SAFETY
Although earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods all bring different hazards, some of the basic precautions are the same.
For starters, it’s a good idea to make sure your garage is in good shape. Is the roof and siding sound, are the windows fully glazed and well caulked, and are the gutters and roof free of debris? While you’re checking, be sure to trim shrubbery or branches and tree limbs that overhang the garage or could brush against the building in a high wind. Not only will your garage and home be safer, it will look better. Also make sure that any outside doors have deadbolts, which not only protect against intruders, but keep high winds or flying objects from knocking them open. As an extra precaution, make sure your house number can be easily seen from the street to ensure that emergency help can find you quickly.
If your garage is like most, in addition to your old car you probably have a lawnmower, tools, cleaning supplies and all kinds of lawn implements. All these things can cause damage if they get loose due to an earthquake or flood. But it’s relatively easy to reduce the risk:
• Store rakes, shovels and other hanging tools in cabinets and secure them with hooks. If cabinets aren’t feasible, secure tools to their wall hooks with small bungee cords or rubber straps.
• Cover your car when it’s being stored to help protect it from flying debris.
• If you store it elevated, be sure to support it on sturdy jack stands under the suspension, which should always be under tension. Never use concrete or cinder blocks.
• For long-term storage, always disconnect the battery.
• Secure heavy objects, such as drills or toolboxes and appliances, with safety straps.
• Install safety latches (like childproof ones) in cabinet doors and drawers to prevent them from opening and spilling their contents.
• Fasten ceiling lights and other hanging equipment to supports by using safety cables.
• For framed pictures or mirrors, use long-shanked, open-eye hooks and picture wire to fasten them to walls. Make sure the hooks are anchored into the walls with studs. You can also try closed eye-hooks and securely screw them into the back of the frame.
• Install flexible gas lines and automatic gas shutoff valves (if your garage is heated).
• Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher in your garage.
Even if an earthquake never strikes, following these tips may contribute to a garage that has less clutter and an environment in which your car is generally safer.