In many neighborhoods, the smell of hot dogs and hamburger patties grilling on barbecue pits will be prevalent on Labor Day as families and friends gather to celebrate.  This summertime ritual of backyard barbecues is a great opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones but can pose challenges to trash disposal. Just as the coals helped to get the fire started in a barbecue pit, they can also start a fire in trash containers or, once emptied into the back of a garbage truck, ignite the materials that surround them.

“The three most common causes for fires in garbage or recycling containers are barbecue coals and ashes, batteries and flammable chemicals, such as lighter fluid and propane,” said Isha Cogborn, Senior Communications Specialist for Waste Management. “Coals that appear to be cooled can stay hot for days after use, which can create an unsafe situation for you, your neighbors and our employees.”

Waste Management offers these safety tips for ashes or coals:

  • Coals or ashes fresh from being used should never be placed in a trash container
  • Cool coals for several days in grill or fireplace, then place in a metal container with a tight lid before placing in trash container
  • Do not use galvanized containers as hot coals on the galvanized metal will release noxious fumes
  • Never place used coals in plastic, paper or wood containers
  • To speed the cooling process, carefully place coals in a metal container full of water to extinguish any residuals
  • Do not place other combustibles in the container with the coals or ashes

Let’s work together to keep our communities and each other safe by keeping flammables and hazardous materials out of our waste and recycling containers. As a reminder, aerosol cans, asbestos, batteries, chemical products, fluorescent lights, pesticides and any types of oil, including oil rags, are among the list of hazardous items not allowed in your curbside waste or recycling containers.