While fire is a year-round safety concern for pet owners and non-pet owners alike, it becomes an even greater issue during summer months. Wildfires, lightning, outdoor grilling and children playing with fire outdoors are common causes of fires during late spring and summer. Since we’re at the beginning of fire season in North America, here are six tips to help protect your pets.
#1. Prevent what you can
Did you know pets can actually be the cause of a house fire? According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 700 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowner’s pet or a wild animal. While some fires aren’t always preventable, you can take steps to prevent fires from starting in your home.
- Keep curious pets away from candles, gas stoves, grills and fireplaces. An open flame can be fascinating to dogs and cats, who are drawn to the flickering motion. It also can be potentially devastating if your pet knocks a lit candle over. Not only could your pet be burned, but it could start a house fire.
- Make sure your home has working smoke detectors.
- Do not use glass water bowls on wooden decks. When filtered through water and glass, the sun’s rays can be magnified, heating and even igniting the wood it sits on.
#2. Have a plan
Safety experts recommend you have a fire escape plan for your family, because you may have only a couple of minutes to leave. That plan should include your pets, too. To reduce your escape time, identify two exits and keep extra leashes or cat carriers near them. And always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a carrier. Dogs and cats may panic when they smell smoke and run away once outside, making them difficult to find.
#3. Be sure your pets are identified
In case you and your pet are separated, make sure they microchipped or wearing a collar with identification tags.
#4. Pack a pet disaster kit
A pet emergency kit that you store in your car, a separate shed or unattached garage will be valuable in case you need to evacuate your home. It should include:
- Veterinary medical records and medications
- Food and bottled water
- Leashes, harnesses or carriers for safe transportation
- Current photos in case your pet becomes lost
- Bowls, cat litter and box, and can opener
- Plastic bags and paper towels to clean up pet waste
- Emergency contact numbers
- Toys and pet beds
#5. Know where pets hide
Do you know where your pet likes to hide when they are scared? If not, now would be a good time to learn. Should your cat or dog become scared, knowing where to look can help you get them out safely.
#6. Use pet alert window stickers
Put a sticker in a front window or near your home’s door alerting first responders to the pets living in your home. The sticker tells fire fighters how many and what kind of pets you have. Just be aware that your local fire department may ignore the sticker as a matter of policy, since their first priority is saving human lives. But, depending on the situation and if you’re not home when a fire occurs, these stickers might just save your pets’ lives.
You can help ensure that all family members — even the four-legged ones — will be safe in the event of a house fire with just a little planning and preparation. And with National Pet Fire Safety Day coming up on July 15, consider celebrating the day with a practice fire drill!