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10 Tips for Safely Storing Tools and Other Items in Your Shed

Published: 09/07/2021

When storing tools and other items in your shed, you should never overlook safety. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 300,000 people in the UK are injured in their gardens each year [1]. This includes 6500 lawnmower accidents, 4400 secateur incidents, and 3600 garden-spade-related accidents. It’s not clear how many of these accidents occur in garden buildings. But as it’s common to store items like these in sheds, we thought it was good idea to offer you advice to help prevent accidents happening to you or a member of your family. So, here are 10 tips to help you avoid storage hazards in your shed…

1. Keep your shed secure

Security measures on a shed

While not strictly related to your personal safety, shed security is important for keeping your possessions safe. After all, tools are expensive – and you may have collected yours over many years. So you want garden tool storage that keeps your tools in one piece - and in one place! To help keep your shed secure, consider fitting a shed security door and locks. The Police recommend fitting two Hasp and Staple padlocks to prevent break-ins [2].  Anti-vandal hinge screws also make it harder for thieves to prise off door hinges – a weak spot thieves will try to exploit. We offer the security options mentioned above as upgrades on many of our garden buildings.

2. Keep your shed free from clutter

Cluttered shed

Clutter stops you making full use of the space in your garden shed. And when all your junk is piled high, it's unsightly and stops you finding your tools when you need them most. And as we say in our post on shed storage ideas, clutter can also lead to trips and falls. In other words, clutter is a hazard. But worse than that – it may also increase the risk of fire [3]. So, to improve safety in your storage shed, it would be wise to get it organised.

3. Store things sensibly

Locked security box

In a previous article, we talk about items you should and shouldn’t store in your shed. And there are some items you just shouldn’t keep in your shed. But there are some items you can get away with storing in your garden building – as long as you do it sensibly…

Storing paper and clothes

Mildew on suit jacket

Clothes and paper are two of the items we’ve said elsewhere that you shouldn’t store in a shed due to the way in which damp and mould can ruin them. However, but if you need somewhere to put summer clothes you don’t need in winter or documents you want to keep (but don’t need right now), you can store them in airtight plastic boxes – that should help keep them fresh and free from damp and mould. A heavy-duty storage box would be a good solution here.

Storing tools: sharp and heavy items

It’s a good idea to hang tools – especially the ones you use a lot – on hooks or in drawers that are easy to find and easy to reach. But by contrast, we don’t recommend hanging knives, hammers – and other sharp or heavy items – up high. Why? Because there’s more danger of them falling and hurting you (or a member of your family) when you go inside. Plus, if you’re forced to stretch for items stored way above your head, this also increases the chances of dropping them – and a free-falling knife is never safe! And to keep toxic or hazardous items away from children, it may be a good idea to store such items in secure boxes, cupboards, or even cages.

4. Insulate your shed

Man installing rockwool insulation

In step 3, we talk about the problems damp and mould can cause for your possessions. But they can also affect your health. As the NHS states, the growth of damp and mould can cause weaken your immune system and cause respiratory issues [4]. To help avoid such issues, check out our guide to insulating a shed. Following the steps in that link could help control the temperature in your garden building and prevent damp and mould from rearing their ugly heads in your outbuilding.

5. Keep up with maintenance

Without proper maintenance, even the best sheds or garden workshops can develop problems. For example, shed roof repair issues can cause leaks, which in turn cause your metal tools and other garden machinery to rust. Leaks can also increase damp and lead to mould growing inside, while also reducing the life expectancy of even the sturdiest garden house storage units. To help avoid such issues, keep up with maintenance and make sure you address any problems as soon as they appear.

6. Be mindful of tripping and slipping hazards

We talk about how clutter can increase the risk of tripping and slipping in step 2 – but it isn’t just clutter you need to worry about here. For starters, think about the condition of your shed floor. If your shed floor is uneven and missing chunks of timber, this can make it easier to slip. If the rest of your shed is in good condition, think about replacing the floorboards on your shed – you’ll find these in the shed spares section of our website.

Consider anti-slip flooring

Warm-floor integated tiles stacked up

To further prevent slipping in your shed, consider warm floor tiles. Perfect for your shed or workshop, these tiles are slip-resistant and impact-resistant. In other words, they don’t just help prevent slipping in your shed – they may also prolong the life of your shed floorboards.

7. Don’t store combustible liquids

Drums filled with flammable liquids

Oil, gas, lighter fluid and paint are common items in sheds, but here’s the problem: they’re all highly flammable! To reduce the risk of fire, you should ideally avoid storing these liquids in your shed. But if you must store them there, place them in airtight – and clearly-marked – containers. And make sure you NEVER mix combustible liquids! In terms of the containers you use, plastic fizzy pop bottles just won’t do. Instead, they must be durable and airtight. In addition, make sure you keep any combustible liquids away from sunlight and other sources of heat.

8. Avoid other hazardous materials

In addition to flammable liquids, there are other hazardous materials you need to watch out for. For example, fertilisers and cleaning products can be both toxic and flammable – and become volatile when exposed to heat. Even oily rags can self ignite, so make sure you keep them separate in covered metal containers. As in step 7, we don’t recommend storing these hazardous items in your shed. But again, if you no choice, you may wish to considering buy special storage cabinets that keep these materials away from danger (and children).

9.  Be careful

"BE CAREFUL" SIGN

Being aware of potential hazards in your shed – whether storage related or not – is arguably the best way to ensure it stays safe and secure. Let’s face it – a vigilant person would always be sure to store tools and other items sensibly. So stay on your toes and keep an eye out for the potential problems described throughout this post, and you’ll be fine. To avoid creating fire hazards, it would also be wise to avoid smoking and having barbecues (and we have seen this!) in your shed.

10. Choose the right shed

Tiger XL Heavyweight Workshop Shed

Owning the right shed is fundamental to safety and security. For example, if you want to store a lot of stuff in your shed, it makes sense to ensure it's big enough for the job. That’s why you’ll find buildings like the Tiger XL Heavyweight Workshop in our range – we want to provide a timber garden storage shed that’s big enough for your needs. In other words, it's big enough to help you avoid the clutter that cause safety hazards. And this workshop has you covered in terms of safe storage and security – it comes with extra shelving, heavy-duty and security options as upgrades. Of course, this isn’t the only garden building that fits these criteria, but it’s prime example of what we offer.

To browse our range of safe and secure sheds and workshops, click this link.

References

[1] https://www.rospa.com/faqs/detail?id=80 [2] https://www.lincs.police.uk/reporting-advice/home-security/shed-outbuilding-and-tool-security/ [3] https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/outside-your-home.aspx [4] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/can-damp-and-mould-affect-my-health/

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