Every July 15th is Pet Fire Safety Day. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but preparing for the possibility of danger can make all the difference. Not only are an estimated 500,000 pets affected annually by home fires, but pets are actually the cause of over 1,000 fires every year in the United States alone.
The first part of fire safety involves making sure you don’t end up with a puppy or kitty arsonist on your hands. That means minimizing the amount of open flame your pets are near or have access to:
- Extinguish open flames when they’re not being used.
- Remove knobs from the stove when they’re not being used to avoid burners accidentally getting turned on.
- Go with LED “flameless” candles to avoid the danger of real candles being knocked over by pets, or tails accidentally coming into contact with open flame.
The second part of pet fire safety involves being prepared for the worst:
- Fire extinguishers: make sure you have them in your home, make sure they’re charged and in working order, and make sure you know what types of fires they’re good for. Want help picking out and using a fire extinguisher? Check out these tips.
- Store collars and leashes near the entrance of your home. Keep your pets in the main living area so they can be easily rescued.
- Secure younger pets when you’re away from home; young, frisky pets are often at the highest risk of accidentally starting a fire. Keeping them in a kennel or in a pet-proofed room devoid of hazards are both options.
- Smoke alarms: good for humans, good for pets. Have multiple, and test them monthly to make sure they’re working properly.
- Use fire alert window clings to help firefighters know at a glance how many pets you have and where they’re likely to be in the home. We can’t stress how important it is to keep it updated with the number of pets living with you, and replace it every few months with the current date. Just like we find with microchips, often firefighters find that fire alert window stickers haven’t been updated and aren’t accurate. This puts firefighters in even greater danger, as they may try to rescue a pet (or sometimes a child) that doesn’t live there anymore. Ensuring you have correct, dated info on your sticker gives you, your pet, and firefighters the best chance of surviving. Stickers can be purchased at a number of places, but the ASPCA will actually send you a pet safety pack for a recommended donation, which seems like a good trade-off.
- Most importantly, make a plan and practice it. The brain does funny things in an emergency; thinking things out beforehand can make all the difference if you get flustered or panicked. Planning an escape route and practicing it can help you understand what problems might occur and how you can avoid them.
These are the basics of being prepared, but there’s always more to be done. If you want to learn more about fire safety in general or pet fire safety in particular, here’s a couple of links to get you started: