Safeguarding Your Garage from Fires

It may surprise you to find out how common garage fires are. Find out if you’re at risk and how to protect your family

You like this look? This garage door is an Eastman E-21, 9' x 8', Moka Brown doors and Ice White overlays, 8 lite Panoramic windows.

Do you like this look? This garage door is an Eastman E-21, 9’ x 8’, Moka Brown doors with Ice White overlays, 8 lite Panoramic windows.

Every year there are reports of thousands of structure damages caused by garage fires. The losses from these accidents total into the millions, causing insurance rates to skyrocket. Sadly, these accidents lead to serious injury and even death.

Luckily, there are simple ways you can prevent these accidents from happening to your home. Continue reading to prevent the causes of these fires, and learn what to do if you are placed in an emergency fire situation.

What Causes Garage Fires?

To answer questions on how to prevent fires in your garage, you must first understand what causes these fires. Truthfully, there isn’t one main culprit that causes a garage fire. As a homeowner, you must stay vigilant and monitor several key areas in the garage that may lead to a fire.

If your home is attached to your garage, things like wiring need to be specifically monitored. Even if a fire starts in the garage, an attached home is at especially high risk from damage especially if the fire originates from a wiring issue.

However, a faulty wiring issue isn’t the only risk to look out for. Most people store gasoline and other flammable materials in the garage. Let’s examine some potential origins of garage fires.

Keep flames out of your garage for your safety. Image: Pixabay

Keep flames out of your garage for your safety. Image: Pixabay

What Are the Biggest Risks?

Garage fires can be caused by nearly anything. However, these are some of the biggest risk factors that could lead to an emergency.

  • Propane and Gasoline Tanks

    The propane tank for your barbecue grill could be one of the most dangerous items located in your garage. Under extreme heat, these tanks run the risk of combusting, leading to a potentially explosive situation. These tanks should always be stored outdoors whenever possible.

    Your gasoline tanks used to fill your lawnmower and other outdoor machines are just as dangerous as propane tanks. This is another example of heat leading to a potential fire. When these gas tanks are left under hot conditions, the gases inside swell. If the swelling becomes great enough, the tank could rupture, leading to enough energy and force to ignite a fire.

  • Lightning

    Believe it or not, lightning is a huge culprit in garage fires. While mother nature can strike at any moment, and we seem powerless, there are small measures you can take to prevent lightning fires.

    In older homes, there may be large metal antennas attached to the roof of the garage. If these are no longer in use, they should be removed as soon as possible. These giant antennas are perfect conductors for lightning.

    If you have a satellite dish installed on the top of your garage or roof of your home, ask your satellite or cable company about potentially switching to a different location.

  • Cardboard/Hoarding

    Sometimes it’s tough to part with items that have been packed away for a long time. However, when a fire starts, these items could feed a fire as quickly as gasoline.

    Stacks of cardboard boxes and other clutter should be downsized as much as possible. Items stacked throughout the entire area of the garage could easily feed a fire once the flames begin spreading.

  • Faulty Wiring

    Returning to the start of the article, faulty wiring can be extremely dangerous in a garage. In older homes, it’s common for old wiring to short and cause sparks.

    When these shortages happen inside of a wall, if the spark is hot enough it could turn into a fire. The drywall is the perfect fuel for a fire and will allow it to quickly spread throughout the entire garage area.

    Once a fire begins due to a wiring problem, understand the whole house is connected to the same diagram. If the breaker isn’t shut off, the fire will spread incredibly fast to other areas of the home.

How Can I Avoid Garage Fires?

There are several steps you can take to avoid a fire from breaking out in your garage. We’ve also included some key items you should have in case you are faced with an emergency.

  • Make sure all of your smoke detectors are working efficiently. Test them once a month to make sure the batteries are live and active.
  • It’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in the garage. While you’re prepping the house for fire, you may want to place one in your kitchen as well.
  • Keep the garage area clean and neat. Remove any potential fuel for a fire like dust and leaves. Old cardboard that’s not being used should be thrown out.
  • Keep propane tanks and any gasoline canisters outside of the garage where they have ventilation.
  • If possible, keep other flammable liquids out of the garage. Paint thinners and other materials can be highly flammable as well. If you can’t store them elsewhere, keep them on a lower shelf out of the sun. Heat rises, and the lower you can place them, the cooler they’ll remain.
  • Never light a fire in your garage. Under no circumstances should you ever light a fire pit or a barbecue grill inside the garage. Not only is this a fire hazard, but this can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

You like this look? This garage door is a Standard+ Shaker-Flat CC, 9' x 7', Black, Clear windows.

Do you like this look? This garage door is a Standard+ Shaker-Flat CC, 9' x 7', Black, Clear windows.

What to Do When You’re Faced with a Fire

We can take every preventative measure possible to avoid a fire. However, the truth is accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s important to prepare yourself by learning the steps to take in case this emergency does take place in your home.

1. Come Up With An Escape Route and Emergency Plan

Talk with your family about what to do if a fire breaks out. There should be escape routes marked throughout the house. Choose windows that are safe to climb out of in case doors are too hot to pass through.

Choose a safe meeting location outdoors where you and your family can move to in the event of a fire. This helps in making sure everyone is accounted for. A great idea for a safe meeting point could be a close neighbors house.

Always teach your children about the emergency 911 system. If they’re considerably younger, make sure they know how to dial 911, and what to say over the phone.

Avoid fire trucks rushing to your location. Image by Pixabay.

Avoid fire trucks rushing to your location. Image: Pixabay

2. After Safety Is Ensured, Call Your Insurance Company

After everyone is accounted for and you’re able to collect yourself, call the insurance company immediately. You may not be emotionally prepared to deal with a phone call, but this must be done as quickly as possible.

The faster you contact your insurance company, the faster an inspector can assess the damage to your garage and home. This is the first step in the rebuilding process.

3. Is the Damage Too Severe To Repair?

Depending on the severity of the damage, you can decide on whether you want to repair or rebuild. It’s possible in certain situations to make repairs and still keep the original structure intact.

If you decide to go with repairs, ensure that all wiring is up to par before anything is moved back into the structure. You must hire a professional in the field who has your family’s safety in mind.

Sometimes it’s necessary to do a full rebuild. If the damage is too severe to think about repairs, you’ll need a full construction rebuild. This may take a considerable amount of time, and you should discuss alternative living situations with your insurance company.

4. Hire A Trusted Local Company

Regardless of what your decision is, you should always go with a local company with great reviews. Hire someone who is a member of the community, and deals with people you see daily.

When it comes to your family’s safety, the project must be in good hands. Meet the company owner face-to-face before making a decision. Ask for reviews and examples of previous projects, and contact past clients for recommendations.

Replacing Your Garage Door

You like this look? This garage door is a Standard+ Classic MIX, 9' x 7', Desert Sand.

Do you like this look? This garage door is a Standard+ Classic MIX, 9' x 7', Desert Sand.

If you decide to repair your garage, you’ll probably still need to replace the garage door. Unless the fire is extremely minor, smoke damage and other issues usually cause heavy damage to key components of the garage.

The insurance company will give you a check for a certain amount, so you’ll have to consider this. After deciding on what you can afford, you can move on to choosing your style.

You’ll need to take measurements of the door to make sure you choose the correct size. Another important factor in deciding whether or not you want an attached or detached style.

There are many dynamics involved with selecting the right garage door. Thanks to today’s technology, you can also choose a garage door opener that can be controlled from your cell phone.

These types of openers also have high-security options. Things like audio and video security can be added as a feature to ensure extra protection.

Keep your utility bill in mind when making your choice. Something as sizable as the garage door has a significant impact on the temperature levels of the garage. You may want a garage door that can efficiently reflect light. This will lead to lower temperatures in your garage.

If you’re going to use your garage as a workshop you may want a model that can stop the wind. In cold temperatures, having a garage door that can deflect the wind can make it much more comfortable if you’re in the garage working.

Be sure to find something that combines a level of comfort, affordability, and style when you make your selection.

Ready For a New Garage Door?

You like this look? This garage door is a Regal Shaker-Flat Long, 9' x 7', Black Ice, window layout: Left-side Harmony.

Do you like this look? This garage door is a Regal Shaker-Flat Long, 9' x 7', Black Ice, window layout: Left-side Harmony.

Contact A-1 Overhead Door Systems to speak with a professional who can answer any questions you have about your new garage door. We also offer a simple e-mail quotation to get your project started faster.

If you’re not sure exactly what you’d like for your garage, check out 3 styles to get an idea of what your options are.

Call us at 978-342-3344, and let our experts get you the perfect garage door!

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Find more examples of potential garage doors for your home here; we’re sure you’ll find something that works for you and your family!

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