BATON ROUGE, LA - As family and friends gather for barbecues, picnics and parties this holiday weekend, properly disposing of trash from the festivities may get overlooked. However, this is the time of year when we see an increase in flammable materials being disposed of curbside and creating potentially dangerous situations in our communities.
The most common causes for fires in garbage or recycling trucks - especially in the summertime - are hot barbecue coals and ashes; flammable items, such as pool chemicals and paint, lighter fluid and propane tanks; lithium ion and rechargeable batteries; and fireworks. These flammable materials create an unsafe situation for our workers, neighbors and fire safety personnel.
As we get ready to celebrate the 4th of July, Waste Management offers these safety tips for flammable household waste:
Hot coals or ashes should never be placed in a trash container.
Cool coals for several days on the grill or in a metal container full of water then seal the container with a tight lid before placing in your trash can.
Never place used coals in plastic, paper or wood containers for disposal.
Keep all flammable and hazardous materials out of your waste and recycling containers including lithium ion and rechargeable batteries, paint, chemical products, fluorescent lights, pesticides and oil rags. Visit your parish/city website to locate Household Hazardous Waste drop off locations in your area.
Collect your used lithium-ion batteries (from toys, greeting cards and electronics) and rechargeable batteries in small plastic bags and take them to a hardware store or other drop-off point for recycling.
Make sure to properly dispose of used fireworks debris. The National Council on Fireworks Safety advises soaking used fireworks in water and letting them sit for 15 minutes before disposal. Dispose of all other debris including used matches, wrappers, etc. in your trash can to prevent littering and water contamination from gunpowder residue.
Not only can we be safe, but we can also be environmentally friendly this Independence Day. Each year, Americans toss out enough paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable utensils to circle the equator 300 times. Using reusable dishware is always best, as it reduces waste going to the landfill. If that is not practical, try to buy environmentally friendly tableware instead. Look for products made from renewable, plant-based materials like sugar cane and bamboo that will biodegrade in compost piles and landfills.
With just a little extra effort, residents can have a safe, fun and eco-friendly Fourth of July.