Spring On the Road

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How to keep your garage work space safe

Auto enthusiasts often find their garage is a sanctuary where they can go and think about their vehicles and little else. Similar to a carpenter's workshop or a gardener's backyard, a garage can be a place where auto enthusiasts unwind as they pursue their passions for automobiles.

But no garage is a true sanctuary if it is not safe, and the following are a few ways auto enthusiasts can ensure their work space is safe and sound.

* Keep an adequately stocked first aid kit on hand. An accessible first aid kit can be the difference between a minor injury or a significant health issue. Make sure the first aid kit is easily accessible, ideally on a low shelf that you can reach should you suffer an injury that limits your mobility. Periodically restock your first aid kit with necessary supplies.

* Post the national Poison Control Hotline number in plain view. That number is 1-800-222-1222 in the United States, and varies from province to province in Canada.

* Always bring your cell phone with you when working in your workshop. Though it might seem like a good idea to escape from life's distractions and leave your cell phone inside when working on your vehicle, that cell phone may be your only way to contact the outside world should you suffer an injury. You don't have to answer the phone when it rings, but be sure to bring it with you as a safety precaution whenever you will be working alone in the garage.

* Install a functioning fire extinguisher in your garage, and learn how to use it. Be sure to  periodically check the extinguisher's expiration date and make sure it's easily accessible.

* Keep hazardous materials out of the reach of children. Read the labels on products. Items whose labels include warnings and cautions or suggest products can be poisonous if or when they are ingested should be stored where kids cannot reach them. If necessary, store them in a cabinet that can be locked.

* Store gasoline in a locked outdoor shed or, if keeping it in the garage, make sure youngsters won't be able to reach it. Make sure the gasoline container is childproof and approved for gasoline storage.

* Wear chemical safety glasses when using hazardous solvents and cleaning products. Wear safety glasses with side shields when using power tools.

* Don't allow children into your work space when you're working on your vehicle.

* Wear tight clothing and take off all jewely. Loose clothing and dangling jewelry that can easily get caught in moving parts, greatly increasing your risk of injury.

* Unplug any power cords before trouble-shooting any problems with your power tools.

* When working with power tools, unplug them when taking a break from work and when leaving your work space, even if such breaks are only momentary.