Did you know that about 40,000 pets die in residential fires in the USA each year*, most from smoke inhalation, and 500,000 pets are affected overall? This is why awareness of fire safety in the home is so important, for humans and animals alike.
July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day and is the perfect day to remind yourself about the importance of fire safety in your home, for you and your pets. Not only are pets often left in potentially life-threatening situations when house fires break out (due to smoke inhalation, inability to escape, etc.), but pets are also often responsible for accidentally causing house fires themselves. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 1,000 house fires are accidentally started by pets each year.
When you think about it, it’s quite easy to see how a curious or playful cat or dog might overturn a lamp or space heater or knock over a candle as they play or counter surf. Incidents have also been recorded of dogs jumping up at stoves and accidentally turning switches, so it’s important to be aware of any potential fire hazards in your home.
How to protect your home from fires caused by pets:
- Use flameless candles that feature bulbs rather than wicks. If you do opt for the real candles, ensure that pets are never left unattended near the open flame.
- If your dog is large enough to reach the counter with its front paws, remove the knobs on stove switches prior to leaving the house.
- Use stainless steel or ceramic pet drinking bowls if they are placed on a wooden deck. Believe it or not, rays of sunshine, when filtered and heated through glass and water, can actually cause the wood beneath the bowl to start burning.
- Pet proof your home by looking for potential fire hazards through the eyes of a pet. Loose wires, stove tops and piles of flammable objects near items that heat up are all potentially dangerous.
How to keep pets safe in the event of a house fire:
- Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to update the number of pets listed.
- Ensure pets are wearing collars at all times with identity tags attached and that their leads are easily found near the front door. This way, whoever is the first on the scene of a fire will be able to quickly and easily lead your pets to safety. Pets will often be waiting at the door to run out as soon as somebody opens it, so if they do run away the identity tags will help them to be returned home safely.
- Provide pets with an escape route in case of fire. A pet door is a great option. Avoid locking pets away in a room where they have no escape option in case of emergency. If you absolutely have to lock them away, choose a room close to an entry door so that they can be easily found by the first person on the scene should a fire break out.
- Never leave home without thoroughly extinguishing all flames properly.
- Consider installing monitored smoke detectors in your home so that somebody will be alerted if a fire does break out and nobody is at home or aware of the situation.
- Be aware of where your pets tend to nap or hide so that you know where to look if you need to find them quickly.
*American Veterinary Medical Association