Children are curious, and this can sometimes make them vulnerable to many dangers. Safety measures cushion them from situations that could jeopardize their lives. Many parents do a good job at creating a safe environment for their children. But they may forget other important areas around the home such as the garage. Here’s how to adequately childproof your garage.
See the Garage from a Kid’s Perspective
Whenever you are in the process of childproofing your garage, first put yourself in a child’s position. You will be able to recognize things that are easily grabbed. Kids are mostly attracted to unusual items (such as power tools, brightly colored containers, etc.), and these are what you should be looking for. From this perspective you will be in a position to eliminate these potential dangers easily.
Store Everything Safely
Garages are supposed to be places where vehicles are parked. Many people unfortunately use them as catch-all storage. These become havens for hoarding junk, items that are of no use except for at some nebulous time “in the future”. Yet, someone in the house simply can’t let go of the item and toss it out or donate it. So, the first thing to do is to de-clutter your garage by removing things that are of no value or which should go elsewhere on your property.
What remains, if it truly belongs in the garage, needs to be in its proper place and physical orientation (“Store Upright” is an instruction seen on many things). Many tools are very dangerous if mishandled, and can cut or otherwise seriously injure a child. All tools should be out of children’s reaches and properly stored.
Be Aware of Fluids
If you have a car, riding mower, boat, or RV parked in your garage make sure there are no leaking fluids. Antifreeze in particular, because it has a “sweet” taste (hence the reason cats lap it up and subsequently die), is very dangerous. Children may find a puddle of it on the garage floor and decide to sample it. Oils are problematic because they are slippery. Cleaning spills or engine leaks quickly with absorbent products is important, not just to the children of the house, but for others as well.
Flammable materials may be the most dangerous things in any garage. Some, such as poorly ventilated containers of gasoline, require only a slight spark to ignite. Secondly, excess exposure to fumes from solvents (such as turpentine) can cause asphyxiation, too. Make sure flammable materials are stored in well-ventilated areas and are tightly sealed. This will reduce the chances of fire or accidental suffocation.
Maintain the Garage Door Regularly
Make the garage off-limits to your children. Only allow them in under your supervision. Lock the entrances to the garage when not in use—this can be one of the best ways of keeping children safe. Locks should be in good condition, obviously.
Many garage doors today are automatic. As with any other mechanical device they need routine maintenance and/or repair. It is also best to make sure the door’s remote controller (usually clipped to a car’s driver’s-side visor) and the manual door switch (that lets someone enter the garage without using a remote control device) are out of a child’s reach. This will greatly reduce any child’s access to the garage when you are not around.
Keep any Recycling Containers Secured
This is another place where kids might come into contact with deadly materials. Many recycling containers, generally stored in a garage until pick-up day, will have sharp metals (from food cans), glass (from bottles), and other potentially hazardous household items. These recyclables tend to sit for several days before a vendor either picks them up or a homeowner takes them to a recycling center. Securing the bin lids keeps the contents away from children (and even an elastic bungee cord clamping a cover down may be sufficient to keep a child out of it).
Safety First with Common Sense
These are the main tips that can help you in childproofing your garage. These mostly rely on common sense and are simple to implement. Just keep in mind it is your duty as a parent to keep your children safe.