Raising awareness around pet-related fires – and prompting pet parents to come up with a worst-case game plan – has saved both human and companion lives. National Pet Fire Safety Day, which takes place annually on July 15, began in 2009 when the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services joined forces to raise awareness. Set aside time on this day to devise and practice an effective exit strategy with your family and pets, and to implement fire safety precautions in your home.
Devising a Plan in the Event of a Fire
Nobody likes to think about worst-case scenarios, but creating a game plan can save you and your pets’ lives! Follow the advice below and run a drill at least once a year.
- Check All Your Smoke Detectors: Batteries should be fresh and detectors should be tested every six months to ensure they’re working properly.
- Create an Emergency Kit: Keep a box of pet essentials near the door so you can grab it quickly before exiting. This should include a leash, muzzle (scared pets can lash out), prescription medication for one or two days, and basic medical supplies in case of injury.
- Assign Family Members to a Pet and Emergency Kit: Determine who will be responsible for grabbing each pet, as well as your supplies. Delegation should be done ahead of time instead of during an actual emergency.
- Know Where Your Pets Tend to Hide: Your pet probably has a couple hideaway spots throughout your home, so familiarize yourself with them so you can quickly collect and escape.
- Leave a Door Open: If you cannot find your pet and must evacuate, leave a door open so there’s still a way out.
- Keep Pets Near a Door When You’re Gone: If you crate or kennel your pets while away, keep them(plus leashes) near a door so they can be rescued quickly. You can also confine them by shutting all your doors when you’re away, keeping them in the main living space.
- Use Pet Alert Stickers: These cling-on, reusable stickers let firefighters know how many pets are inside your home. They should be placed in a prominent location, such as the front window or door, and can be purchased at pet stores.
- Participate in (or start) a Neighborhood Watch Community Group: In addition to keeping an eye out for crime, neighborhood watch groups can also be on the lookout for fires and accidents. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a group like this, consider being the pioneer! Having additional eyes on your home when you’re away can bring great peace of mind and prevent tragedy.
How to Prevent Fires Caused by Pets
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 500,000 pets are affected by home fires every year, and about 700 of those fires are caused by pets and wild animals. The latter typically refers to birds and rodents that nest in chimneys and on top of equipment, and should be dealt with swiftly via kind pest control. For indoor pets, there are strategic steps you can take to minimize the risk of Spot and Fluffy accidentally inciting a blaze.
- Be Mindful of Your Stovetop: Dogs and cats are naturally curious creatures, and despite some of our best pet parenting efforts they wander into areas that are strictly off limits. Case in point: the stove, a veritable wonderland of delicious smells and interesting-looking gadgets. Stay close to your stove when cooking to prevent pets from knocking over equipment, and invest in knob covers (sold at both pet and baby stores) to reduce the risk of your pet accidentally turning the stove on.
- Limit Candle Usage and Use Alternatives: Your pet can’t bump into an open flame if one doesn’t exist! Consider using home fragrance alternatives, such as diffusers, potpourri, and flameless candles, and always blow out the flame when you leave a room.
- Turn Lights Off: Another common cause of pet-related fires is pets knocking over lamps. Easy solution? Turning all the lights off when you leave your home..
- Get Rid of Exposed Wires: Inspect cords to make sure there’s no wire exposed and always keep cords out of your pets’ reach. Encourage your pet to chew on an approved toy.
- Never Place Glass Water Bowls on a Wooden Deck: While it’s not common, if conditions are right a glass bowl sitting on a wood deck can create a fire. This occurs when the sun shines through the bowl, heats the water, and ignites a flame.
There’s no better day to run a drill, discuss fire safety with your family, and implement safety precautions throughout your home than National Pet Fire Safety Day.