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Do Hazards Lurk in Your Garage?

Garages and driveways can harbor hazards. Our top tips for decreasing clutter and increasing safety.

picture of a cluttered garage.
Clear the clutter in your garage to reduce the chance of injury.
Gorlov-KV / Shutterstock

Garages and driveways may not seem like especially dangerous places, but both can harbor life-threatening hazards like dangerous clutter and cars spewing life-threatening carbon monoxide. These tips can help you 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 29 million 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 13,307 calls related to insecticide ingestion in 2017, 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.

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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.

This article was first published in January 2014 and updated in March 2019.