Here’s a scary pet fire safety stat: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), pets and wildlife start about 700 home fires a year, for example by accidentally turning on the stove or knocking over a lamp.
We all love our pets, and the last thing we want to think about is one of them getting hurt in a fire. And that’s not to mention the dramatic lessons we got from the TV show This Is Us last year on the dangers of house fires!
So, what’s a loving pet parent to do? Naturally, making sure you have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers is job one to protect your entire family. Then take these additional 8 steps to help keep your pets safe…
1. Start pet fire safety planning with PREVENTION.
Never leave pets unattended around an open flame such as a candle or fireplace. In fact, consider flameless candles. They offer the ambiance of their fiery counterparts, with far fewer hazards. Even if your dog knocks it over or your cat’s tail brushes through the “flame,” they’ll be safe.
2. Keep pets safe by keeping them away from hazards.
Cooking equipment is a major cause of pet-originated fires. Our friends at BLUEPEARL™ Veterinary Partners note that pets who jump on counters can easily hit a stove knob, turning on the gas or turning up a flame. If you have a curious pet or one who climbs around your kitchen, use knob covers or remove knobs when you aren’t around to monitor pet safety. Keep young or untrained pets away from potential hazards by crating them or securing them behind baby gates.
3. Make sure emergency responders know you have pets.
A pet alert window sign near each entrance to your home is another important pet fire safety step. It tells emergency responders that one or more pets are in your home and might need help. Learn more and download a free pet alert sign here. Also, if you crate pets when you’re away, keep the crate near a door so it’s easy for firefighters to find pets quickly after entering your home.
4. Make a pet fire safety evacuation plan.
The American Red Cross says that if a fire starts in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape. Every family should have a fire evacuation plan and do a practice fire drill at least twice a year. Know two ways to get out of every room in your home and decide where to meet once you get outside. Be sure to include your pets in your plan and to have leashes or carriers available near every exit.
5. Consider monitored smoke detectors.
While it’s obviously vital to have working smoke detectors in your home, for pet fire safety you may want to think about upgrading a step further. Consider using monitored smoke detectors, says the American Kennel Club. These devices are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home.
6. Know where your pet is likely to hide.
In case of a fire, your pet is probably going to be scared. Be sure you know where he or she is likely to hide inside the house – for example under a couch or inside a particular closet. Unfortunately, if you can’t find them quickly, YOU still need to escape – and fast. Get outside and leave the door open for your pets to follow. Call for them to help them find their way, and let firefighters know that pets are still inside.
7. Make sure pets aren’t lost during evacuation.
A fire is a scary situation and pets may run off. Another important pet fire safety step is making sure your pets are microchipped before an emergency happens, and that the information on the chip registry is up to date. Microchipped pets are much more likely to be returned to their owners. A WHISTLE™ tracker can help, too! Whistle 3 can locate your pet down the street or miles away.
8. After a fire, watch your pet closely.
If your pet is acting lethargic or having trouble breathing, it could be a sign of smoke inhalation. BANFIELD™ Pet Hospital says to let first responders know so they can help – many fire departments now have equipment to help people and pets. Plus, see your veterinarian as soon as possible for any needed follow-up care.