Cat and Dog Fire Safety Making a Fire-Safety Plan for Your Pets

BY | March 08 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Cat and Dog Fire Safety

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Pets are just as affected by home fires as their people, and the last time you want to be thinking of disaster prep is when something is already wrong. Take a moment to form your pet fire safety plan.

Thousands of pets are affected annually by home fires*. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to prepare yourself and your pets to get to safety in case of a fire. Here are ways you can prepare for a fire in your house and help protect your pets from such a disaster.

Prevention

The biggest thing you can do to prevent your pet from being injured in a home fire is to have working fire alarms and extinguishers. Alarms with current batteries (checked regularly) should be placed on each floor or area of the home. If youโ€™re out of the house a lot of the time, you might consider installing fire alarms that are connected to a monitoring unit able to alert the fire department directly.

You should also be aware of these common pet-related fire hazards:

  • Never leave unattended candles or open flames lit around pets. Your dog or cat could accidentally knock them over and start a fire. The ASPCA reports that more than 1,000 fires are started accidentally by pets each year.
  • Chewed electrical cords are another common cause of home fires. If youโ€™ve got young pets who havenโ€™t learned this is unacceptable behavior yet, be sure youโ€™ve puppy- or kitten-proofed your home by hiding loose cords away.
  • Stovetop burner fires can be caused by a pet (usually a cat) playing in the kitchen area. Consider using stove knob covers, available in the baby-proofing section of a store, to prevent accidental burner fires.

Be Prepared

  • Pet alert stickers listing the number and type of pets in your house will help first responders rescue your pets in an emergency. Place stickers at access points like front and back doors. Many stores and non-profit shelters have these stickers available for free, including the ASPCA.
  • Create an emergency kit for your pet. This should be kept in one central locationโ€”preferably near an exitโ€”and should include a leash or carrier, food, and any necessary medications. For cats, consider including a small litterbox. You may also wish to secure your petโ€™s veterinary records with this kitโ€”if you need to board your pet after an emergency, youโ€™ll have current vaccination records available.
  • Pets can be lost in the chaos of a home fire, whether they escape the house or get lost during the aftermath. Microchipping your pet can help ensure he or she is returned to your care.
  • Home fire drills will help avoid unnecessary panic or confusion in the event of a fire. Your whole family should participate in the planning and execution of the drills.
  • Many first respondersโ€™ equipment now includes pet-sized oxygen masks. If your local fire department doesnโ€™t have these tools, consider coordinating a neighborhood fundraiser to help purchase some for the unit.

In Case of Emergency

  • Remember your drills and donโ€™t panic! Your pet will be able to sense your state of mind and this can make them more agitated.
  • If possible, always use a leash or carrier when evacuating the home. Your pet can panic in an emergency and can get lost or run away during the chaos.
  • If you need to escape your home before youโ€™ve secured your pet, leave multiple access points open for them to escape on their own. Calling to your pet from a safe distance through an open door can help draw him or her to you.

*The Fire Department Network News reports that an estimated 500,000 pets are affected by home fires every year.

Pet Fire Safety Checklist

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.

Hereโ€™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 shouldnโ€™t, make sure electrical cords are neatly in place or coiled so long dangling bits of cord donโ€™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 petโ€™s necessary medications. Place your petโ€™s veterinary records in an envelope inside.

 Microchip your pets if you havenโ€™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 โ€“ a fire can cause pets to panic and bolt โ€“ 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, donโ€™t put yourself in danger by trying to retrieve it.

 Leave the house, leaving an access point open. If youโ€™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 donโ€™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, youโ€™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 FEMAโ€™s fire safety guidelines to outfit your home for people fire safety as well as pet safety!

More on Pet Safety

Pet Fire Safety Checklist
Disaster Preparedness for Pets
Pet Safety During the Holidays Infographic
Poisonous Plants to Cats and Dogs

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