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Unexpected heat hazards can be found in your garage

The Austin Fire Department is warning homeowners about the dangers of leaving a hot lawnmower or gas can in your garage.

AUSTIN, Texas — The next time you mow your lawn, you may want to reconsider how you store the lawnmower when you're done. The hot outdoor temperatures could put you and your equipment at risk of a fire. 

Officials with the Austin Fire Department (AFD) say although it's not an everyday, common scenario, during the hot summer months, the department has responded to calls where hot lawnmowers were put away in a garage, came into contact with a combustible and started a fire. 

Thayer Smith, division chief with the AFD, said after mowing the grass,  let your lawnmower cool off outside before putting it away in a garage or shed. With the heat wave hitting Central Texas, the gas in a lawnmower can be more volatile than it usually is. 

"If you're going to put it in the garage, the lawnmower in the garage, let it cool down. Make sure the caps are very tight. Just the same thing as the gas cans," Smith said.

The AFD doesn't recommend homeowners keep any type of gas in their garages. Instead, either store it outside or in a separate shed. 

"What could happen is as that gasoline [gives] off gases and the fumes fill up. They find an ignition source, especially if you have like a gas-powered hot water heater where it has a pilot light. Those fumes are eventually going to find that pilot light. You're going to have an ignition," Smith said.

Also, make sure lids and caps on gas cans are tight to prevent fumes from escaping, finding an ignition source and causing a fire. Smith said homeowners and apartment renters should keep a good quality dry chemical fire extinguisher in close reach at all times. 

"Usually in apartment complexes, you keep them under the sink in the home. That way they're relatively available if you have a kitchen fire, which are certainly more common," Smith said. "So, yes, we want you to have a good working dry chemical fire extinguisher that's readily available somewhere in the home."

With the current heat index, Smith said any outdoor activity can become dangerous, so make sure you're taking breaks and staying hydrated while tending to your lawn or doing work in the garage. The AFD has reported an uptick in calls related to people overheating. 

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