What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Garage Safety Tips

Yesterday, I shared a few of my views on garages.  We have had five garages, four of which have been detached.  By far, I much prefer an attached garage.  I insist on having garages secured at all times after a bit of a wake-up call where my bike was stolen from our garage, I watched the kids go by riding it but it didn't click in until the police showed up with my bike.  Honestly, I was likely about 30 from the garage!  Not only that, at that time we had a freezer in the garage that the police kindly pointed out there was a very good chance that food had gone missing when the garage door was open even though I thought I was saving a little on hydro costs by letting a cross breeze into the garage keeping the ambient temperature lower. Then I got involved with Neighbourhood Watch, a program designed to increase awareness while decreasing crime.

Garages can be a weak link in your home security because folks simply don't think about them. Depending on the design of the garage there are certain measures you should take to protect the contents of your garage.  Failure to do so can result in theft, property damage, and increased vehicle or property insurance.

  • generic -  All newer built garages have a secondary door to the outside as part of the building code but it is possible to buy older houses with garages that do not have a secondary door because they were built before that stipulation became code.  A secondary door serves as an emergency exit in the event of a fire or malfunction of the automatic garage door opener so it should never be blocked.  If you have an older garage without a secondary door, I highly recommend installing one.  Keep the area around the outside of your garage free of vegetation that could give a hiding spot for burglars.  Keep the inside of your garage free of flammable fumes and other combustibles.   Any vehicle parked in a garage should be locked preferably with the alarm system activated and any valuables out of sight.  The garage door should always be closed and locked unless you are leaving or entering the garage or if you are in the garage.  I am not a huge fan of windows in any garage.  They present a weak link in security and while one could argue that a garage window allows neighbours to see if there is someone in your garage, most neighbours never pay any attention.  Any window should be secured by way of locks, bars and if necessary mesh or bars to prevent unauthorized entry.  An alternative is to eliminate any garage windows.   Never, ever announce to anyone you are going to be away from your home if even for only for an hour.  If you are planning on being away from your home for an extended period of time, have a trusted neighbour or family member check on your house including the garage.   If for any reason you suspect someone may be in your garage, do not enter it! If you are in your vehicle, lock the doors and  AND if at all possible park on the street then lay on the horn after calling 911 to attract the attention of neighbours while scaring off the burglar.  If you are in the house and hear someone in your garage, call 911 immediately.  If you have a monitored alarm system, arm it then hit the panic button before calling 911.  Be sure any doors and windows are locked and stay out of sight until help arrives.  
  • detached garages -  Detached garages are more prone to break-ins simply because the home owner cannot hear someone breaking into their garage.  A detached garage can be protected through your home security system if desired or you can add DIY alarms that will emit a loud noise if compromised.  All secondary doors on this type of garage should have a locking handset and a deadbolt AND they should be kept locked at all times.  Don't store valuables in your garage and keep valuables out of sight because quite often break-ins are a crime of snatch and grab opportunities.
  • attached garages -  All attached garages should be equiped with a carbon monoxide detector and the garage door should be open fully before starting a vehicle.  A carbon monoxide detector should be installed in the house Attached garages are easier to secure against break-ins, less prone to break-ins but homeowners often get slack in locking the door between the main house and garage.  This door should be locked even when you are home.  If someone gets into your garage, this gives them immediate access to your home under the cloak of prying eyes from neighbours  You should never store valuables in your car and your vehicle should be locked at all times even when in the garage but it general a car in a locked attached garage is less prone to break-ins than a car locked in a detached garage.