No one likes to think about a disaster, but as we sometimes learn, having a disaster plan in place can make a huge difference in our safety and the safety of our pets should something happen. This is true for fires just as it is for hurricanes, tornadoes, and natural disasters that require a disaster preparedness plan.
Pet fire safety has more to do with what you can do today, and in your day-to-day, than what to do if a fire actually starts in your home.
Here’s a pet fire safety checklist to go over with your household.
Fire Safety Preparation
Make sure you have working fire alarms and extinguishers. Check your batteries at least once a month.
Blow out any candles before you leave a room. Pets can accidentally knock them over and start a fire.
If you have a puppy or kitten, or a pet who likes to chew things they shouldn’t, make sure electrical cords are neatly in place or coiled so long dangling bits of cord don’t tempt your pets. When leaving your pet home alone, consider leaving them in a cord-free room or two, or closing off electronics-heavy areas like TV stands or computer desks.
Get stove knob covers or completely remove the knobs on your stove when you leave. Climbing cats and dogs can accidentally start a stove fire by turning a burner knob on just enough.
Get pet alert stickers listing the number and type of pets in your house and place them in windows at or near your front and back doors. This way, firefighters will know how many pets to look for.
Gather an emergency kit that has a leash or carrier, food, and your pet’s necessary medications. Place your pet’s veterinary records in an envelope inside.
Microchip your pets if you haven’t already. In the event that your pet bolts into the neighborhood to escape a fire, a microchip will allow a shelter or do-gooder to reunite you with your pet.
Ask your local fire station if they have pet-sized oxygen masks for use when rescuing pets from fires. If not, consider organizing a fundraiser for some.
In Case of a Fire
Leash or crate pets who are immediately accessible. If your pet is already right there or in your arms, get them on a leash or in a crate – a fire can cause pets to panic and bolt – and leave the house.
Get the emergency kit if immediately accessible. If your emergency kit is near the closest exit, grab it on the way out. If getting it means getting closer to the flames, don’t put yourself in danger by trying to retrieve it.
Leave the house, leaving an access point open. If you’re not sure where your pets are, leave a door or a window open on your way out. Many pets will be able to find the way out themselves, or you can call to them from a safe distance.
According to Trupanian Pet Insurance, more pets get saved when owners don’t stay in the house trying to save them all themselves. The instinct to save our pets is strong, but if kitty is already hiding in favorite spot #12, you’re unlikely to find them before you yourself are in danger. Moreover, your pets may have already gotten out of the house in the confusion, and spending time looking for them jeopardizes you and the firemen.
Read up on FEMA’s fire safety guidelines to outfit your home for people fire safety as well as pet safety!
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