How to Keep Other Structures Safe and Secure

Other structures on your property such as detached garages or sheds can be targets for burglars and can filled with potential safety hazards. Here are a few guidelines to follow if you have other structures on your premises.

Safety first

Garages and sheds can be used for storing boxes you haven’t gotten around to unpacking since moving in, holiday decorations, tools, and vehicles. If your garage gets cluttered, it becomes much easier for you or a guest to trip over things or inhale fumes from spilled chemicals that have been knocked over.

To combat potential injuries, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure the space is well-lit. One simple light in the center of the ceiling won’t cut it. Install – or hire a handyman to install – multiple long fluorescent light fixtures in order to illuminate the whole space so there are no shadows hiding potential hazards or intruders. It’s a good idea to have the bulbs encased in wire to better protect them if you’ll be working in your garage or shed.
  • Air it out. If your structure doesn’t already have an exhaust fan and you’re going to be working on home projects in it, installing one of these fans should be the first thing on your To-Do list. Home projects can require working in conditions with sawdust, combustibles, or other toxins, so exhaust fans are necessities to ensure that no one requires medical attention after inhaling dust or fumes.
  • Clean, clean, clean! Keep the floors clean. If you park your car in the garage and it leaks some type of fluid, clean it up immediately as it’s a hazard. Dispose of greasy/oily rags because left out, they could be a fire risk. Also, sweep away cobwebs and make sure trash bins are sealed tightly – cobwebs can house venomous spiders and exposed garbage could attract pests such as raccoons, rats, or squirrels.
  • Don’t need it, don’t keep it. Get rid of stuff you don’t and won’t ever use. Get rid of the clutter.
  • Get organized. Tools, boxes, lawn equipment, etc. should be stored neatly and efficiently to avoid potential injuries. Purchase racks or bins and organize your garage or shed.
  • Have safety equipment on hand. Keep a first aid kit and fire extinguisher inside the structure in case of emergency.

Lock it up

In 2013, the FBI estimated that more than 1.9 million burglaries occurred in the United States and victims suffered $4.5 billion in loss of property.

Many homeowners tightly secure their homes with deadbolts and/or security systems but don’t give much thought to the security of other structures since they’re not connected to the house itself.

Burglars have begun targeting sheds and garages because of more lax security. Plus, they often contain high-payout items such as power tools that can be taken, and they could house alcohol or inhalants, which draw the attention of teenagers. To help alleviate the chances of your shed or garage being broken into, consider the following:

  • Bolt the doors and cover the windows. Burglars will be more enticed to break into your garage or shed if they can see that there are valuables inside. Cover the windows with blinds or tarps to keep your property out of sight, and if you want added security, consider putting bars over the windows. Also, be sure that you lock and deadbolt the door(s) when exiting.
  • Be smart about the placement of your garage door opener. If you have an automatic garage door opener and you store it in your car, be sure to always lock your vehicle’s doors. It may be wise to incorporate the use of a keychain transmitter so that you can always keep it on your person. Bonus tip: when you’re backing out of the driveway and hit the button to close the door, make sure it shuts the whole way before you drive off. The last thing you need is a thief sneaking into your garage at the last second and taking whatever they can get their hands on.
  • Increase surveillance. Consider installing motion-sensor lights and/or video cameras around the structures as added deterrents. And form trusting relationships with your neighbors as well as joining a neighborhood watch program – you and your neighbors can strike deals to watch for one another when either party is not at home, and the neighborhood watch program will help out with that, too.

Insurance coverage for other structures

In the event of a disaster such as a fire or theft, the structures on your property can be covered under standard home insurance policies. Coverage for detached garages, sheds, gazebos, etc. is usually set at 10% of the home’s insured value.

This coverage can be raised to cover special types of detached structures if the automatic limit isn't enough coverage.

In case an invited guest is injured while rummaging around in your tool shed looking for a wrench, your home insurance’s liability coverage will kick in to help pay for medical expenses that result, though the amount varies by policy.

Obviously, protecting your house is important – that’s where you spend most of your time. But you also should make sure the Other Structures are fully covered

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