Under circumstances of incomplete combustion and poorly ventilated spaces, charcoal briquettes can generate toxic concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO). The amount of charcoal briquettes required to produce toxic concentrations of CO is quite small — about the amount normally used in conventional barbecues.
The fact is that coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to start a fire for many days after you think the fire is out. The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment and cooling depends on many factors such as how hot the fire was, what was burning, how much unburned fuel remains. To be safe, simply treat all ashes and coals as hot, even when you think they had time enough to cool.
To properly dispose of ashes or coals here are a few tips:
- If possible, allow ashes and coals to cool in the area where they had the fire for several days. These devises are designed to contain their heat safely.
- When it is time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down.
- Keep metal container outside your home and away from any combustibles until the refuse is hauled away.
- DO NOT place any other combustibles in the metal container.
- DO NOT use a combustible container.
People die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning when they burn charcoal in enclosed areas such as their homes, in campers or vans, or in tents. Some of the victims die from carbon monoxide poisoning after they burn charcoal in a bedroom tent or camper to keep warm. Carbon monoxide can be deadly.