Why garage safety should be on your to-do list too

If I said the word “garage,” what does it bring to mind? Probably something to do with your vehicle. Maybe storage? For some, maybe the luxury of a workshop area.

Garage safety was not likely something that ever entered even the back recesses of your mind.

Mine either. Until a few months back when, in doing the very mundane task of taking the recycling out to sort it, I missed a step and found myself face-to-floor with a very hard and cold slab of concrete. Eight stiches to my face and one broken knee cap later and I have a whole new respect for making our home a safer place for the entire family.

Luckily, just a few simple safety checks can help make your garage a safer place for you, your family and your vehicles.

For starters, garages tend to be the first place we go when it comes to our storage needs. But excess clutter can lead to accidents. Things like tools, ladders and sports equipment should be properly stored to prevent tripping hazards and/or the antics of curious toddlers.

The last thing you want to do is have your arms full of groceries and trip over an abandoned bike.

Automatic garage door openers are commonplace these days, and ensuring they are working properly is essential. One important item to check regularly is the safety stops.

In order to do so, you’ll need a buddy. Start with the garage door open and have your buddy press the button to close the door. Block the safety beam at the bottom of the garage door and make sure the door reverses direction. If it does not, you might have a bad beam and the sensors may need to be replaced. Check your owner’s manual for troubleshooting methods and/or part numbers.

The next test is resistance. As the door is coming down try to stop it by hand. It should stop and reverse with a reasonable amount of force. If it does not, this could pose a threat, particularly for children and pets, and should be addressed by a professional.

Next, check to see if your garage receptacles are ground-fault-circuit-interrupter protected. Testers are available at your local hardware store and are easy to use. Simply plug it into the outlet you’d like to test and press the button. The tester will “trip” the system if the outlet is grounded.

If your outlets are not protected consider having a licensed electrician upgrade them.

Fortunately (?), my little accident was due to clumsiness and a lack of paying attention versus any issues with items blocking my path. But I am more aware of safety issues than ever before and, while keeping the garage clean/organized is definitely not my favorite thing to do, it has made the regular chore list in our household.