Childproofing the Garage
The childproofing steps that need to be taken in the garage depend on how the family uses the area. Garages can hold a great many different elements of the household’s possessions, including motorized vehicles; lawn and garden equipment; chemicals, cleaners, and paints; a washer and dryer; a freezer; an area for household pets; a workshop; sports equipment; etc., as well as garbage and recycling. There will also be at least one garage door, and typically, a door into the house.
Depending on your household’s choices of how to use the garage, you will wish to take the appropriate portions of the following safety precautions, and perhaps even additional precautions, to make your garage childproof. Remember, that childproofing is not only necessary for those that have children themselves, but it is also important for those people, like aunts, uncles, and grandparents, that may have children visit. But no matter how safe the garage is made, some experts suggest that the best approach to the garage is to keep children away from the space.Garage Door
The dangers of the garage door cannot be overstated. This is why, since 1982, it is mandatory that garage-door openers have an auto-reverse mechanism so that if the door comes in contact with an object, it will reverse the door’s direction. Since 1993, an additional feature to avoid entrapment, such as a photoelectric sensor, is required. If you have a garage door older than this, it should be replaced. The controls for a garage door should be placed out of children’s reach.Motorized Vehicles
The exhaust, the trunk, and the possibility of a child setting the car in motion are the three most obvious dangers of a car. If the car is running, children should be in it or outside of the garage; children shouldn’t ever stand behind a running car. Keys should not be left inside the car in order to avoid a child accidentally starting the car while in a closed garage. The trunk should be kept locked, as should the body of the car. Motorcycles and other motorized vehicles should be secured so that they cannot fall on a child.Lawn and Garden Equipment
Long-handled tools should be stored so they cannot fall on children. Power equipment should be locked away in cabinets. Tools with sharp edges or points, or other potentially dangerous qualities, should be stored out of the reach of children.Chemicals, Cleaners, and Paints
All these substances should be locked up out of children’s reach. The containers that hold them should be tightly sealed so fumes don’t leak.Laundry
Door locks on the washer and dryer will keep children from accidentally becoming trapped in them. Laundry accoutrements, such as detergent, bleach, stain remover, and dry cleaning kits should be stored out of a child's reach.Food Storage
If you have a freezer, the door should be locked so that a child cannot be locked into it or take food out. Picnic coolers should also be kept out of reach, so children cannot become trapped.Pets
Pet bedding, litter boxes, and feeding areas—any or all of which sometimes occupy a section of the garage—should be arranged so as to be kept off limits to children.Workshop
Hand tools, power tools, vises, clamps, and all hardware such as nails, screws, nuts, and bolts, as well as adhesives, splintery boards, etc. should be in cabinets, locked out of children’s reach. This includes any cleaning equipment, such as a shop vac or broom. Buckets and other containers should be stored upside down to avoid the collection of liquid that could potentially be hazardous to a child.Sports Equipment
Long-handled sports equipment, such as hockey sticks, should be placed so that it cannot fall on a child. The child’s own equipment, such as balls and a tricycle, that is stored in a garage should only be accessed by an adult.Trash and Recycling
Keep these items in strong containers that are tightly closed, have a locking lid, and are out of children’s reach.
Written by Mary Elizabeth
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