Garage Safety Basics

The garage generally is not a safe place for an unsupervised young child to be, and it's best to keep it off-limits to her. That doesn't preclude taking the following precautionary measures to prevent accidents however.

Think about what's in your garage, workshop, or storage shed for a moment and it quickly becomes clear that it's a potentially hazardous environment for children. These spaces house not only a car, but often sharp tools and implements, toxic and flammable substances from insecticides and fertilizers to pest poisons and gasoline, perhaps empty bottles and cans, plus countless items that could fall over onto a child and cause injury. Even the garage door can be dangerous. The garage generally is not a safe place for an unsupervised young child to be, and it's best to keep it off-limits to her. That doesn't preclude taking the following precautionary measures to prevent accidents however.

  • Use cabinet and drawer latches and electrical outlet covers as you would in other parts of the house, and keep hazardous implements and substances safely locked away.
  • Don't leave lengths of rope lying around or hanging down from hooks.
  • Store ladders in a horizontal position, so a child cannot climb up them.
  • Disconnect power tools when not in use. Plug locks are available that attach to cords and prevent their insertion into electrical outlets.
  • Properly dispose of any incendiary materials such as piles of old newspapers and magazines, old clothing, and soiled, oily rags. Do not store gasoline or other flammable liquids near gas and hot-water heaters.
  • Never store a discarded appliance in a garage without first removing the door.
  • Lock the car doors. Little fingers are easily crushed by a car door and there are plenty of potential hazards inside the car should a young child enter it unsupervised.
  • Use special precautions with garage doors. Garage doors are heavy and can cause serious injuries. Both automatic and manual doors can crush fingers and cause severe head injuries, even death. The safest kind of manually operated garage door has a counter-balance system rather than a long coil spring. Make sure automatic garage doors have a device that automatically stops the door or reverses it when it comes into contact with an object.

From The Parents Answer Book: From Birth Through Age Five, by the editors of Parents magazine. Copyright © 2000 by Roundtable Press and G+J USA Publishing.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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