Help Prevent Trash Fires: Keep These 5 Materials out of Your Garbage

By Andrea Davis on August 2, 2018

You might not think much about what you put in your trash. Anything that can’t be recycled that you want to get rid of is probably fair game. But some items can pose a fire hazard if they’re not disposed of properly. Please help us keep fire out of our trucks and facilities by keeping the following items out of your trash:

Rechargeable Batteries

Batteries that contain heavy metals, including lithium, nickel cadmium or lead-acid, are a definite no-no when it comes to your trash. These include car batteries, camera batteries, cell phone batteries and similar batteries, basically any rechargeable battery . The danger from these batteries is very real; batteries alone cause fires in garbage trucks and disposal facilities across the country (including ours!) regularly. For information on how to dispose of different types of batteries, please read this blog post.

Flammable and Combustible Liquids

This category includes liquids like gasoline, oil-based paints and kerosene. In addition to the liquids themselves, the fumes can easily ignite, particularly when placed in a garbage truck where they’ll be compacted and near a heat source. Instead of putting these liquids in the trash, dispose of them at a hazardous waste landfill or watch for special collection days in your communities. If you have used all the liquid, the container can be rinsed and thrown in the trash.

Household Chemicals

Household chemicals include substances such as bleach, ammonia and paint thinner. These substances can cause fires when they mix with other chemicals in the same load. These materials can be disposed of at a special household hazardous waste collection day in your community. If all the liquid has been used, the container can be rinsed and thrown away in the trash.

Compressed Gas Cylinders

Whether they’re the standard 20-lb tank for your gas grill, the small camping stove canisters or very large tanks, these cannot just be placed in your trash as is. Ideally, you shouldn’t put them in your trash at all, but to see all your options, please read our blog post.

Ashes and Coals

If it’s already hot or burning, chances are it’s going to easily catch things around it on fire. According to many fire department personnel, people often misjudge how long it takes these materials to extinguish. Though you may think the ashes or coals are cold, there could still be dormant heat. The best way to ensure they are truly cold is to leave them in the fire pit, grill or fireplace for a couple of days before disposing of them. If this isn’t possible, douse them thoroughly with water before placing them in your trash collection.

Please help us protect our associates and the public from fire by disposing of these materials safely.


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