Tips to help you dispose of your ashes safely

As the temperature drops outside and we think about using our fireplaces and heating stoves, it is important to remember a few safety tips and precautions from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. Heating equipment and improper ash disposal are leading causes of home and wildland fires during the fall and winter months.

Stay warm and safe this season by following these safety tips

  • Have heating equipment, chimney, and stove inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep every fall just before heating season.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them. Four days or 96 hours is the minimum recommended cooling period for ashes.
  • Place completely cooled ashes in a covered metal container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings. Ashes should never be disposed of in a plastic garbage box or can, a cardboard box or paper grocery bag. Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.

The metal container should be placed away from anything flammable. It should not be placed next to a firewood pile, up against or in the garage, on or under a wood deck, or under a porch.

After sitting for a week in the metal container, check them again to be sure they are cool. If so, the ashes are then safe to dispose of in your trash or used as compost in your garden.

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As a safety precaution keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, wood stove, or any other heating appliance, and create a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around an open fire. It is important to make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying, and never leave a fire unattended, particularly when children are present.