Identify the dangers lurking in your garage

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With the recent reports of house explosions rocking the Houston area this summer, homeowners are left wondering if their homes are safe (KTRK)

With the recent reports of house explosions rocking the Houston area this summer, homeowners are left wondering if their homes are safe.

If you open up anyone's garage door, you're likely to find anything from propane fuel tanks, aerosol cans, and chemicals. Depending on where and how they are stored, it could spell a recipe for a disaster, which is exactly what happened in Leslie Mason's neighborhood.

"Got awoke by a loud boom, and we looked out the window and saw the fire and said our neighbor's house is on fire and called 911," Mason said.

Her neighbor's home was leveled, and emergency officials focused their investigation on a potential gas explosion. Experts say those blasts often come from the garage where many homeowners store their propane tanks.

The tanks are a big red flag because they can heat up on a hot summer day, potentially activating the pressure relief valve.

"If the pressure gets too great in the bottle, you're going to have liquid propane shooting out of the back of this valve," said Matt Peterson with Buster Brown Propane.

If the valve releases propane into the air, Peterson says it will smell like rotten meat.

"The moment you smell that, you need to vacate the premises," Peterson said.

He says to leave immediately without turning on the lights or activating the garage door opener. Anything with electricity could create a spark, ending in a fatal explosion. To avoid this all together, tanks should always be stored outside.

Propane tanks are good for 12 years from the purchase date. After that, they need to be certified every five years to make sure the integrity of the tank is safe.

Once they begin to rust, that's a big warning sign to dispose of it. Experts say to take it to your propane dealer for further instruction on tossing it properly and safely.

Another thing to be mindful of is keeping dangerous items close to one another on shelves.

"We have fertilizer here that's stored next to a gas can. Of course, that can be combustible," said Keith McCoy with Solutions Self Chem. "We also have a container of chlorine here which is also combustible and certainly you don't want to mix oil with chlorine or oil with fertilizers."

McCoy says to read the warning labels on all products and make sure you aren't creating a fire hazard by storing them next to one another. Even things like aerosol cans should be kept in cooler areas under 130 degrees.

For homes with pools, there is a right and wrong place to store your chlorine.

"That's something that should be stored in a well-ventilated area, away from moisture, in a cool dry place," McCoy said.

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