Will you be doing any Spring Cleaning this month? Often annual cleaning involves cleaning out our garages and moving stored items around. It is vital that things are stored properly to prevent a fire. Every year, there are 6,600 garage fires resulting in an average of 30 deaths, 400 injuries and $457 million in property loss.
Electrical malfunctions are the leading cause of garage fires. These fires can start because of shorts in wires, damaged wires and overloading electrical outlets.
Here are some reminders on how to keep your home safe from garage fires:
- Store oil, gasoline, paints, propane, and varnishes in a shed away from your home.
- Keep items that can burn on shelves away from appliances.
- Plug only one charging appliance into an outlet.
- Don’t use an extension cord when charging an appliance.
- A 20-minute fire-rated door that is self-closing and self-latching from the garage into the house.
- A ceiling made with ?-inch Type X gypsum board (or the equivalent) if you have living space above the garage.
- A wall with ½-inch gypsum board (or the equivalent) if the wall attaches the garage to your home.
- An attic hatch cover if you have attic access from the garage.
- A heat alarm — not a smoke alarm — in your garage. The heat alarm will sound if the temperature rises too high.
Heat alarms (detectors) respond to fire, not smoke. They are another useful part of any home fire safety plan.
Smoke alarms in garages can sound because of a change in temperature and humidity, as well as dust, fumes, and insects. Heat alarms are made to not be affected by these conditions.
Smoke alarms are not required or designed for use, in garages. Many heat alarm models can be connected to a home’s fire detection system so that if the heat alarm sounds, the smoke alarms will as well.
Tips for buying and installing heat alarms:
Purchase a heat alarm that is:
- Hard-wired with a battery backup.
- Capable of interconnecting with your home’s smoke alarms.
- Rated for temperatures between 175-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Alarms with lower temperature ratings may sound because temperatures in garages rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Alarms with higher temperature ratings may sound too late to warn you of a fire.
Have your hard-wired heat alarm installed by a qualified electrician.
Don’t install heat alarms near fluorescent lights. Electrical noise and flickering from the lights may affect the alarm’s operation.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.