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.
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 you’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
- 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 you’ve got young pets who haven’t learned this is
unacceptable behavior yet, be sure you’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.
- 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,
- Create an emergency kit for
your pet. This should be kept in one central
location—preferably near an exit—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 pet’s veterinary records with this kit—if you need
to board your pet after an emergency, you’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 responders’ equipment now includes pet-sized
oxygen masks. If your local fire department doesn’t have these
tools, consider coordinating a neighborhood fundraiser to help
purchase some for the unit.
In Case of Emergency
- Remember your drills and don’t panic! Your pet will be able
to sense your state of mind and this can make them more
- 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 you’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.
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.
Here’s a pet fire safety checklist to go over with your
Fire Safety Preparation
you have working fire alarms and extinguishers. Check your
batteries at least once a month.
any candles before you leave a room. Pets can accidentally
knock them over and start a fire.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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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Pet Safety During the Holidays
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