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Fire Prevention

Posted on: September 22, 2022

Homeowner Advisory: How to Safely Put Out Cigarettes and Charcoal Grills to Avoid Garbage Fires

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Homeowner Fire Prevention Advisory

September 22, 2022


Since the beginning of the year, there have been seven fires in Middletown related to cigarettes and/or charcoal not being put out before discarding, according to data from Middletown Township Fire Prevention. Four of the seven incidents involved smoking, and several of them began in garbage cans. Middletown Township Fire Marshal Buddy Skelly and Fire Chief Bernard Chenoweth would like to provide homeowners with simple tips on how to safely put out cigarettes and charcoal grills to prevent garbage fires.

Please follow these important fire safety precautions when smoking or grilling: 

Completely discard any type of smoking material. Place the material in an ashtray, solo cup with water, etc. and wait at least fifteen minutes to confirm that it is completely out before disposing of it in a garbage can. Never throw a cigarette in vegetation, such as mulch, potted plants, grass, or any type of landscaping.

Follow the appropriate steps when putting out charcoal in a BBQ grill or chimenea. Once you are finished using the grill, immediately turn it off and completely seal the lid and air vents. It is recommended to let your grill soak 48 hours before opening it. Once your grill is cool, use tongs or heat-proof gloves to pick up the coals and use an old brush to clear the ash. Place the coals and ash in a separate bucket of water and baking soda (or salt). This will help remove any grease. Wrap the coals and ash in aluminum foil and dispose of them in a metal garbage can. If you use charcoal in a chimenea, remove the charcoal/embers once they are cool and then carefully place them into a metal container/bucket. Soak the area down and let it sit for at least an hour before discarding. 

Never pour water onto hot coals or directly on your recently used BBQ grill. This can create hot steam and ash, which can be very harmful.

Do not throw coals in a plastic garbage can. Even the slightest ember could either burn or melt the plastic and cause a fire.

Keep the garbage can a safe distance from your home and other items that can catch on fire. Be cautious of what else you throw in it. If possible, do not discard anything else into the can.

Avoid throwing out certain materials in your trash, unless you follow the appropriate measures. Some items include fireworks, charcoals, briquettes, ashes, batteries, propane and butane tanks, pool chemicals, hazardous household chemicals, and flares.

If you have any questions, please call the Middletown Fire Prevention Office at 732-615-2272.

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