When you’re a parent, your kids follow you everywhere – and that includes into the garage when you need to grab a tool, get the bikes out or work on a project. Having a little helper who wants to do everything you do is a great feeling but it’s also a big responsibility. The garage tends to be a repository for all the things that are too dirty or too dangerous to store in other areas of your home, and so risks to kids abound in this useful space.
Childproofing a garage is consequently a little trickier than childproofing a bathroom or other room but garage safety is worth the time and trouble. We’ve compiled just some of the ways you can keep apprentice mechanics and shop assistants safe without having to declare the garage off limits.
Look at your garage with new eyes
Before you start, crouch down to your child’s height and take a look around your garage. It’s the best way to find dangerous objects currently stored in spots that make them tempting for little hands to grab or hazards like exposed wiring. Put anything children shouldn’t ever touch out of reach and make sure that anything that could potentially fall on a child and cause an injury is stored securely.
Test your garage door sensor
Most modern automatic garage door systems have sensors designed to retract the door immediately if they detect anything in the way but these aren’t foolproof. Garage doors can severely injure a child so think of the system’s sensors as your backup and just be vigilant. Install switches out of reach of young children and teach kids to stand clear of the garage door when it’s going up or down.
Invest in cabinet locks
Make sure extremely hazardous things like weed killer, gasoline, antifreeze and paint thinner are stored inside a locked cabinet. Inspect containers regularly because leaks can cause not only slips and falls, but also chemical burns or accidental poisoning. When it comes to storing gas, know that older containers made before The Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act in 2008 may allow flammable fumes to pass into the air, where they can ignite with just a spark.
Lock your car at all times
You may be tempted to leave your car unlocked in your locked garage but this can make it a tempting hiding spot for young kids who may then become trapped in trunks. Make sure that your children don’t have access to your keys to prevent them from accidentally starting the car in the closed garage. And if you have a motorcycle, secure it so it can’t tip over onto curious kids.
Make your mower inaccessible
Ideally, your lawn mower should hung on the garage wall so it’s entirely out of reach but if that’s impossible, secure it (with the blade facing the wall) using a chain and lock. An easy way to keep curious kids from turning on the mower is to disconnect the battery whenever it’s not in use.
Store buckets upside down
Even a few inches of water in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket can drown a young child or toddler because while they can get in (head first), they are frequently unable to get back out on their own. Storing buckets open end down ensures that liquid won’t accumulate in them. Garbage cans and recycling bins can be equally hazardous so make sure you choose cans and bins with lids that close and latch securely and close the latches every time.
Childproofing the garage can take some time if you’ve been lax about garage safety in the past but it’s worth the trouble! A safe garage lets kids explore the hands on side of grownup life and lets parents share their hobbies without fear of accidents or injuries.
Looking for more information about keeping kids safe, inside your home and out? This blog is part of a series on how to childproof different areas of your house and yard so your family is protected. Previously we’ve discussed childproofing your living room, childproofing your kitchen, childproofing the bedroom, and childproofing the bathroom.