Home & Garden

Hints From Heloise: Trash bins could be fire hazard if they’re in garages, next to homes

DEAR HELOISE: I read with interest about trash bins being left out on the street. What worries me is that some are kept in garages. They can pose a fire hazard if stored in the wrong place. If ashes from a fireplace or rags containing linseed oil were to be put in these containers, they can cause the contents to ignite. They should not be kept in a garage or up against the side of a home.

My neighbor almost lost her home. She put what she thought were cold ashes from her fireplace in the trash bin. The bin was up against her home and under the eave. Her smoke alarm saved her.

I stained my deck and tossed the rag in my trash can. A couple of hours later, my wife informed me that the can had smoke coming out of it. I store cans away from my home and have alerted my neighbors of the danger.

D.H., a retired fire captain, via email

DEAR D.H.: Good advice indeed! The possibility that a trash can might ignite when something apparently “innocent” is put in it is high. As noted, something that seems harmless (fireplace ashes “seem” cold) may not be! Rags that were used with linseed oil can and have spontaneously combusted when tossed into a small container.

That said, most folks do keep the big trash can in the garage, if possible. Maybe this is a good point to bring up at a homeowners meeting.

DEAR HELOISE: When traveling, I use slider-lock plastic bags for toiletries: one for morning, one for nighttime and one for items used both morning and night. At the destination, it is easy to carry into the bathroom. I keep a list in each bag showing the items normally kept in it. I keep the empty bags in my suitcase, ready for the next trip.

Barbara G. in Houston

DEAR HELOISE: I love to geocache and letterbox. (It is like a scavenger hunt in nature.) I often have to stick my hands in dirty places or in bushes that may scratch, etc. I love this hobby and do it often. I started keeping a pair of gloves in my car. They have come in handy for so many other things, too: pumping gas, picking up trash, etc. It’s always good to have a pair of gloves with you!

Yancy K. in Alabama

DEAR HELOISE: You know those little plastic covers that protect nozzles on spray bottles and cans? They roll off the counter and onto the floor. I can’t find them (until I step on them). They just disappear into the pattern of the tile. Now I color the top of the cover with a marker or a dab of red nail polish. Makes finding it much easier.

Karen in Rhode Island

DEAR HELOISE: I am a granny who transports four young granddaughters on a regular basis. When it is cold, we have trouble correctly buckling their car-seat harnesses over heavy coats. Here is our answer: We buckle them in their seats, then put their coats on them backward, tucking them in around the sides. Safe and warm!

Nana in Little Rock, Ark.

Send a great hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 79500, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.