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WM provides tips for an Independence Day free of fire hazards

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Waste Management
credit: Waste Management

As family and friends gather for barbecues, picnics and parties this holiday weekend, it’s important to properly dispose of trash to prevent dangerous situations. This is the time of year when we see an increase in flammable materials being improperly disposed of curbside and potentially creating fire hazards in our communities.

“The most common causes of fires in garbage or recycling trucks — especially in the summertime — are hot barbecue coals and ashes, as well as flammable items such as pool chemicals and paint, lighter fluid and propane tanks, lithium ion and rechargeable batteries, and fireworks,” said Mark Noel, WM Director – Environmental, Health and Safety. “These flammable materials can create unsafe situations for our workers, neighbors and first responders.”

As we get ready to celebrate the 4th of July, WM offers these safety tips for flammable household waste:

Hot coals or ashes should never be placed in a trash container. Cool the 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 or 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 recommends 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, we can all have a safe, fun and eco-friendly Fourth of July.

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