Bosses at a north-east crematorium have issued a plea for families to “ask first” before leaving anything in their loved one’s coffin.
Cigars, alcohol and mobile phones are among the potentially hazardous items that have been placed in coffins, along with more unusual things like golf clubs, balls, a fishing rod and even a takeaway meal.
Now the operators of Moray Crematorium at Buckie have asked mourners to check before leaving items in coffins to ensure the safety of their staff.
Tony Davidson, technical services manager for the Crematorium and Memorial Group (CMG), said: “We understand that mourners may wish to leave items in the coffin, but we respectfully ask that they talk to us or their funeral director about alternative ways of personalising the funeral.
“The worse case scenario is that these items damage the cremator or injure a colleague causing a delay to other family’s funerals. Clearly nobody would want this to happen.”
Combustible items such as alcohol, mobile phones or battery-powered devices can all cause an explosion if cremated, while some plastics can emit poisonous fumes.
CMG said that hard objects, including golf and bowling balls, can be “propelled” during the cremation process and cause substantial damage to the equipment.
‘Add a personal touch’
The custom of placing personal items alongside people who have died dates back thousands of years and throughout many cultures.
Many families will feel it is important to leave a personal memento in the coffin with their loved one.
CMG has suggested some items that could be placed inside, such as rosary beads, unframed photos, religious texts and handwritten cards.
Crematoriums advise that sentimental items or those with financial value are not left in the coffin and although jewellery and medals can be cremated, they cannot be recovered afterwards.
Aberdeen City Council said the crematorium at Hazlehead follows the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authority (FBCA) guidelines.
Brendan Day, secretary of the FBCA, echoed the CMG’s warning.
“For many years we have provided guidance to funeral directors on items which should not be placed in coffins with the deceased,” he said. “We recognise the importance of personalising a funeral, however, to protect the environment and crematorium staff it is necessary to exclude items which have the potential to produce harmful emissions and even explosions.”