Candi Amundson, CVT
Associate Veterinary Information Specialist
Typically, it starts out as an ordinary day and ends with your worst nightmare. House fire causes range from electrical, chemical/gas, and candles, to appliances, or even holiday lights. Believe it or not, many house fires can be caused by pets. Some dogs can jump up and accidentally turn on your stovetop or your cat could knock over a burning candle. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), in 2014 one home structure fire was reported every 86 seconds. It is unknown how many of those structures housed pets. During times of emergencies, some pets may become frightened and may hide to find comfort. The best plan is to create a prevention plan for guidance if there becomes a time of need. In observance of July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day, here are some prevention tips that can help save your pet’s life.
Put the fires out!
When you leave the room while your pet is alone, put out the fireplace and blow out the candle flames. Pets can easily walk past the flame and start themselves and other things they touch on fire. Some cats and dogs can knock over open flame candles and accidentally start a fire. Flameless candles may be a great option!
Some pets have been known for “counter surfing” in their day, which can be very risky when near the stove. If the burners are mistakenly turned on while you are gone, this could put your pets at risk of starting a house fire or having your kitchen fill with flammable gas! There are some neat gadgets you can find that will cover the knobs, or you can even remove the knobs completely with a quick twist.
Follow Smoke Alarm Guidelines
Be sure to test all smoke detectors on a regular basis, the NFPA suggests at least once a month, and in large homes you may consider interconnected smoke alarms (when one smoke alarm sounds they all sound).
Say NO to glass bowls!
Most people that have pets outdoors will have a bowl of water for them out on their patio. Avoid using a glass bowl, since glass on a wooden deck is a fire hazard. The sun shines through the water and glass, which then magnifies the sun’s rays and could lead to the wood igniting.
Escape Route Plan
Make sure the plan is in writing and includes a map. This will be helpful to all the family members during an emergency situation. Each pet should have a family member assigned as their caretaker. Consider leaving your pet’s leash and collar near the exit/door of your house. Pet Alert window decals can help save your pet’s life if you are not home. If an emergency responder needs to safely enter and retrieve your pets, it is best to have the pet alert up to date and leashes/cages near the door.
Emergencies are just that, never planned situations. Try to prepare the family and inform emergency responders of how to safely remove all family members from a house fire. Smoke inhalation is very serious as well. To get the family involved create a fire drill with the pets, this simple role-play exercise may help save your families life!