Blog: Ten Tips to Protect Your Pets from a House Fire
What could be worse than the thought of your pet being caught in a house fire? Unfortunately, it happens more often than most people realize. An estimated 500,000 pets are affected by home fires each year in America.
There are two key strategies in pet fire safety: preventing your pet from causing a fire and protecting your pet if a fire happens, regardless of how it started.
Pet owners should be hyper-vigilant about any possibility that their pet could accidentally start a fire. Just like you fire-proof a house for toddlers, you need to do the same for pets.
- Keep an eye on all electrical appliances. Make sure pets aren’t able to chew on electrical cords or knock appliances over.
- Never leave an unattended pet around an open flame. This includes candles, patio fire pits, lit cigarettes or cigars or any other sources of sparks or flames. Consider replacing real candles with safer flameless candles in your home. Cats love to walk along a shelf or counter and knock things to the floor! Make sure you don’t take that risk with real candles.
- Keep your house clean. Accumulations of pet hair, dryer lint, dust and dander can be an ignition point for a spark.
- Be careful with dogs around stoves, especially large dogs who can reach or stand up on their hind legs and accidentally turn a burner on. You may even need to consider taking the stove knobs off, especially with a gas stove which could ignite quickly.
- Check out new technology as it becomes available! Some devices will alert your phone if your smoke detector goes off in your home.
- Speaking of smoke detectors, make sure yours are working and regularly replace the batteries. The “chirping” sound of a low battery in your smoke detector can be very frightening to a dog and can cause them to bolt when you open the door.
- Get all of your pets microchipped and keep the information up to date. Keep current ID tags and collars on your pets at all times. If your pet escapes during a fire, you want to have the best chance of being contacted if someone finds them.
- Every house should have a sticker or window cling at the points of entry that alert firefighters and emergency personnel to the number and types of pets who live there. This saves time and increases the chance of a safe recovery of your pets if you aren’t home when a fire occurs.
- Have an emergency plan in place including a fire escape route for you and your family. Decide who in the family will be responsible for each pet and make sure leashes and carriers are in a convenient place near the fire exit. Keep a “just in case” package that you can grab on the way out the door including your pet’s important papers (vet records, microchip information, etc.) and any medication they may be taking.
- Socialize your pets around strangers. You don’t want them to be scared of someone who is trying to rescue them in an emergency. If they run and hide, they may not be able to be rescued in time.
- Plan and designate a safe spot that your pets may be kept at until you are able to return home. Remember, this could be days, weeks or even months until your house is repaired and ready to move back into. Family members, friends, vets and boarding facilities may be able to help.
If a pet accidentally escapes during a fire, don’t panic! Just like pets lost from natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornados, they usually don’t go far. They may bolt in fear at first but then hunker down and hide and creep back home when it is quiet. Leave food and water, your pet’s blanket, bed or crate and an article of your dirty clothing in a quiet place near the house but safely away from any fire debris. They may return on their own! Remind everyone to never chase or call a missing pet because this will usually drive them further away. Distribute flyers in the neighborhood so that everyone knows your pet is missing.