National Pet Fire Safety Day took place on July 15th to remind all of us about the steps we can take to keep our pets safe from fires, and safe from accidentally setting them. In fact, an estimated half million pets are affected annually by fires, according to the United States Fire Administration, and pets accidentally set over 1,000 fires each year.
In a short amount of time, you can take a few quick steps to prevent fires in and around your house, as well as prepare for what you and your family would do in case of a fire.
Prevention is the Best First Step!
While pets can be the victims of house fires, they can also accidentally cause them. Many of these unintentional fires can be avoided by practicing a few key safety measures:
- Don’t leave open flames unattended. Pets are naturally curious, so if you leave a fire burning in the fireplace, a candle lit or a stove burner on, you may be inviting trouble. Be attentive to candles and other sources of fire in your home, and be sure to extinguish them before leaving the house. If you have an especially curious dog or cat, you may not want to leave them unattended around a heat source even for a few minutes.
- Go flameless. Flameless candles use batteries and light bulbs rather than open flames. Dogs (especially those with long and full tails) can start fires if their tails overturn a lit candle. Flameless candles remove that risk. There are so many different color options and many even flicker like a real candle. If you do continue to use candles, be sure to put them out of the reach of your pets and blow them out before going to sleep.
- Secure the Stove. According to the National Fire Protection Association, inadvertently turning on the stovetop burners is the number one way pets can start house fires. This is especially a concern if your dog or cat is reaching across the stovetop, enticed by the food in a pan. Before leaving the house, remove any food from the top of the stove. Consider removing your stove burner knobs, adding childproof protective covers, or using the locking feature many of the newer stoves offer.
Check Your Smoke Detectors
Fires can spread rapidly in a home. Fire alarms can alert you to a fire earlier than you may detect it yourself and can give you precious extra minutes to get out of the house.
- Check your fire alarms regularly and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year to be sure they are in active, working condition.
- If your smoke detectors are over 10 years old, consider replacing them with new ones.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
It’s important to be as prepared as possible and keep your pets in mind. One key to protecting your pets from the tragedy of a fire is to be sure you include them in your family disaster plan. To get started, here are four things you can do to integrate your four-legged family members:
- Determine which family member will be responsible for each pet. Know where your pets hide, as this may be the first place they go if there is a fire.
- Plan to bring your pet’s carrier when you evacuate the house. It can be a safe and comforting place for your pet to be, especially when the fire truck arrives. Consider putting a leash at every door in case you and your dog need to get out quickly.
- Put a Pet Alert window sticker on a door or window near the front with the number of pets you have in the house. You can find these at pet stores or shelters. It will help the rescue team know to look for your pets. Be sure to update it if the number and kind of pets change.
- Practice your plan a few times with your whole family, including your pets. Know what doors or windows you will leave from if the fire is in different parts of the house. See how long it takes everyone to exit and meet in a planned spot away from the house.
It only takes a little bit of time to include your pets in your home evacuation plans and to minimize the fire hazards in your home. The reward of keeping your family members safe, including the small furry ones, is priceless.
For more information to keep your four-legged family safe, healthy and happy, sign up for the Best Friends Club!