Are there hidden dangers lurking in your garage?

Mon 12 Dec, 2016

Firefighters are asking people when they last took a good look at what they are storing in their garages, and encouraging them to have a clear-out to reduce the risk of a fire.

Karen Lock, from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's community safety team, said: "Accidental garage fires are on the increase in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, and many of the fires are believed to be due to the use of faulty electrical equipment fuelled by the storage of household clutter and flammable items.  

"Additionally, recent research suggests that more than 60 per cent of UK motorists use their garages as an extra utility room to run electrical white goods, and to store DIY and gardening materials and equipment, rather than to house their cars.

"Only last week, there was a fire in a garage in Milton Keynes which is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in a freezer." (See picture above).

She added: "People accumulate a large number of items over time, including practical everyday objects, valuables, keepsakes, collectibles and knick-knacks. Some of them will be of great sentimental or monetary value, while others can be absolutely valueless.

"There may be hidden dangers lurking in your garage which can cause fires. Accumulated combustible rubbish increases the risk in a building, so we are encouraging people to get rid of all unwanted clutter."

Karen offered the following safety tips:

  • Portable electrical equipment and white goods should be inspected regularly and fitted with correctly rated fuses. A fuse of too high a rating can lead to a fire in the appliance that it is supposed to protect.
  • Limit the use of electrical extension leads and multipoint adaptors to a minimum.
  • Extension leads and socket outlets should not be overloaded. Reel-type extension leads should be fully unwound to prevent overheating of the cable, but make sure they do not constitute a tripping hazard and that the leads cannot be damaged.
  • Combustible materials, flammable liquids and chemicals, including paint, white spirit and cleaning fluids, should be stored away from any heat source. Unused or out-of-date ones should be safely disposed of.
  • Old and dilapidated upholstery can contribute to the spread of fire. Perhaps it's time for a visit to your local household waste and recycling centre.
  • Make sure any stored equipment is stable. Unstable stored equipment can fall, injuring people and obstructing exits.