Did you know that National Pet Fire Safety Day is in July? Today author Maria Bostian (What Should Daisy Do?) has put together a collection of tips for families to keep their pets and homes safe from threat of fire.
Did you know that an estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires and that nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets? While difficult to think about, these are true statistics released by the National Fire Protection Association.
What can be done to keep your pets safe from the devastating effects of fire? Raise awareness? Begin conversations with pet owners? The National Volunteer Fire Council, the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services did just that! They joined forces in the late 2000s to make July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day. Their goal was to spread awareness about how pets can start home fires, but more importantly, how to prevent them.
I would have never even thought about the need for a pet fire safety day, however, as the Public Information Officer for my fire department, I’ve been to several fires where pets were the cause of the fire (One was caused by pets moving knobs on the stove.) and have witnessed the terrible loss of pets from unintentional fires started by humans (some of these incidents I’ll never forget!).
Often times, fire safety is an afterthought. But let’s change that! Starting today, let’s make it a priority – for us and for our pets!
What poses safety concerns for your pets? Both my husband and I teach fire safety though our work in local fire departments so we make every effort to be fire safe. But even our house poses some dangers. We do light candles, but try to keep them out of reach of our indoor cats. Long gone is the coffee table with an array of candles. We learned years ago that was a disaster waiting to happen. Now days, we use far more battery-operated candles and when we do have open flame candles we keep them out of reach of the cats (and their swishy tails).
Our outdoor pets need consideration, too. The hubby loves his fire pit and so do our animals! Jeff has been really good to build it up off the ground and with a rocky base to prevent any grass fires. He keeps the seating area away from the pit and has taught our animals to back away from the flames. Still, we have a couple curious cats seem drawn to the light and heat sometimes and he’s there to shoo them away before they too close!
What about the pets in your care? Do you use open flamed candles in the home? What about cigarettes? Need deep-dish ash trays? Do you have a home escape plan and when’s the last time you practiced it? Are your pets familiar with the sound of your working smoke alarms? WOW! These seem like so many things to consider. While it seems like a lot to take in – take baby steps! Start by taking time to talk about fire safety with your family and proceed from there. Your family (and your pets) will be glad that you did! Neela sure did!
Below are several tips on how to prevent your beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as, how to keep your pets safe. For more pet fire safety information, feel free to contact me or your local fire department.
Prevent your pet from starting fires:
- Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
- Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in pet-started fires.
- Invest in flameless candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.
Keep your pets safe:
- Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away From Home – Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
- Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
- Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Consider using monitored smoke alarms which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.
- Use a Pet Finder Sticker – Consider using a pet finder sticker on or near the front door so that emergency workers will know that there are pets inside. Include names if possible so that crews can call pets by name when searching for them. Don’t have a fancy sticker? That’s ok! Simply write the information on piece of paper and secure it to a window.
Include Your Pets in Your Disaster Plan:
- Determine Which Adult Family Member will be Responsible for Each Pet.
- Know Where Your Pets Hide! – This may be the first place they go if there is fire or smoke.
- IF you are safe from topic smoke and flames, plan on bringing your pet carriers with you when you evacuate the home.
- In the event of a fire, you may have to stay in a shelter or hotel for several days. – If this happens, chances are that you may not be able to bring your pets with you. Talk to a friend or family member in advance to secure lodging/care for your pets in the event of an emergency.