Working on your Corvette in your garage should be a fun and relaxing experience; something you look forward to and enjoy doing. But nothing puts a dampener on a good time like getting injured; that's no fun at all. So that's what I'm going to focus on this month: how not to get hurt working in your garage, and what you should have within easy reach if you do.
The best source of safety in your garage isn't something you can buy or stack on your shelves-it's prevention. There's no substitute for being careful and eliminating anything that may be a threat to your safety in the garage. There's an old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, and that's something you can take to the bank.
The two biggest factors responsible for accidents and injuries in the garage are carelessness and distractions. Carelessness can rear its ugly head in many ways. Not picking up that air hose that's lying on the garage floor, leaving a tool or piece of equipment where it can be tripped over, piling stuff up rather than stowing it properly-these are all examples of carelessness that can cause accidents. The important point is that these hazards can be avoided and eliminated by taking the time to be careful rather than careless. Carelessness is a first-person hazard. This means that if you left the hose on the floor or created the hazard, you are the one responsible. But you don't get off that lightly. If someone else created the hazard, and you don't do anything to correct and eliminate it, you're still to blame.
Distractions, on the other hand, can have shared causes and/or causers. For example, you may be involved working on something, and the cell phone rings, which you answer and still continue to work-now there's a distraction. Similarly, you can be immersed and focused on what you're doing when the kids come running in chasing the dog or some other such distraction pulls your attention away from the task at hand. Sometimes the distraction was caused even before you entered the garage-maybe you had an argument with your spouse, and you proceeded to work with it still on your mind. That's a distraction, too, because it's keeping you from totally focusing on what you're doing. And lack of focus leads to accidents.
Now I don't want to come off sounding holier than thou, because that is certainly not the case. I've had more than my fair share of cuts, scrapes, bruises, blackened fingernails, and burns working on my various Corvettes and other vehicles over the years. Minor injuries are inevitable anytime you work with tools and materials that are harder than your own flesh and bone. But it's important to minimize their occurrence as much as possible and not invite trouble through carelessness or distractions. Injuries don't need any help or encouragement-they'll happen anyway.
That being said, there are certain things you should have in your garage to deal with accidents if and when they occur. Every garage needs to have at least one fully-charged fire extinguisher. Fire can be absolutely devastating, especially in the garage where chemicals and accelerants can help it to spread even quicker. Mount the extinguisher on a quick-release bracket that can be reached instantly and be sure there are no obstructions blocking the path to the extinguisher. And make sure the extinguisher is fully charged and in proper working order. The extinguisher should be inspected and, if necessary, recharged on a yearly basis.
Fire extinguishers have different ratings according to the types of fires they can be successfully used on: Class A-trash, wood, paper; Class B-liquids; Class C-electrical equipment. Since all these materials are typically found in the garage, and a fire can involve some or all of them, the ideal fire extinguisher to have in your garage is a general-purpose unit that can handle all three classes.