Summer Heat, Litter, and Reducing Fire Hazards with Waste Disposal

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Summertime can cause overheating in more ways than one, including fires caused by litter. While there are many reasons to celebrate this summer, being cautious about the environmental dangers that litter can cause is essential.

According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, disposing of debris improperly is one of the main causes of wildland fires. Exercising caution during this busy time of year can help make sure that unnecessary fires never occur. Although litter can seem like a small issue at first, it can negatively impact your community and become a fire hazard.

Here are some things that you can do to help prevent wildfires:

How Summer Heat Leads to Litter Fires

As part of the southern region of the United States, Tennessee becomes very hot and dry during the summertime. This, unfortunately, makes for optimal conditions for a fire to start.

Litter only adds to this problem. Left in hot and dry conditions, it can dry out and cause quick ignition when combined with fire starters that are common in the summertime. This can escalate to wildfires or grass fires that are dangerous to local wildlife, parks, infrastructure and communities.

Even something that can seem so small, like parking or idling a hot car over dry leaves or grass can cause a problem. The car’s catalytic converter or exhaust system to ignite the dry material underneath the car without the driver even being aware.

Common Litter Practices That Pose Fire Risk and Proper Disposal

Improper waste disposal is another main factor in the risk of fire incidents in the state of Tennessee: trash fires, wildfires, grass fires and house fires can all be caused by disposing of waste incorrectly.

Here are a few common fire instances that can quickly get out of hand if not taking proper precautions:

1. Cigarette Disposal

Cigarette butts remain the most commonly littered item in the United States and, if ignited, cause the most wildfires in the state as well. Avoiding throwing these out the window while driving can prevent fires from starting that can spread quickly and impact the visibility and overall safety of drivers on the road. Cigarettes should always be disposed of by extinguishing them in an ashtray and allowing the ashes to burn out before throwing them away in a trash can.

2. Fireworks

While fireworks are a beautiful way to celebrate holidays, they are also a major risk factor for starting fires. Staying vigilant with local burn bans, having a water hose ready for grassy areas as a precaution and making sure that fireworks are never ignited in containers can prevent fires from getting out of hand while celebrating.

3. Disposing of Combustible or Flammable Materials

Read labels on containers you use around the house to ensure these materials are not flammable. If they are, it is best to dispose of these through a local hazardous waste site. Any flammable liquid spilled should be cleaned by using an absorbent material first to dry out chemicals and then cleaned with a regular cleaning product to ensure that no accidental fires occur on these surfaces.

4. Campfires and Grill Fires

All outdoor fires should be closely supervised and extinguished completely before leaving the area. Campfires and grill fires especially are common causes of accidental fires. Campfires should be properly extinguished using water as well as soil to put out the fire completely. All ashes should be wet to ensure it is put out properly. To make sure a grill fire is disposed of properly, first, make sure the burners are turned off completely. Then, dispose of the coals in a metal container once completely cool. If a flare-up occurs that needs to be put out, do NOT use water to put out any grease fire, such as a grill fire. Use sand or a similar substance to smother the flames, as well as turn off the burners and close the lid to deprive the grill of any additional oxygen.

5. Recycling and Trash Disposal

Making sure to dispose of trash properly in garbage bins. Do not burn waste yourself. This can ensure that no accidental fires occur. Take out all trash to your local recycling or trash collection center and allow professionals to take care of the waste for you!

Creating a Safer Environment for All

By using these precautions, you can prevent fires from occurring in your area. You can help be proactive in fire safety by spreading the word on handling trash properly, being aware of dry conditions and burn bans and, of course, taking precautions in situations where fires occur most often.

By picking up litter and disposing of it properly, you Join The Movement to ensure the environment and your community stay safe this summer!


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