Home fires occur all too often, putting our lives and our pet’s lives at risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 40,000 pets die in fires every year and approximately 750 of home fires are started by pets or wild animals. The American Red Cross has found that the majority of the fires are preventable. To help keep our homes and our pets safe, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Remove stove knobs and keep pets away from the stove or other cooking equipment. Stovetops are the number one cause of pet-started home fires.
- Do not leave your home if there is a lit, open flame or if a space heater is on. If you often light candles, consider investing in flameless candles that are battery operated.
- Keep pets more than two feet away from the fireplace and invest in a metal or heat-tempered glass screen.
- Keep electrical cords covered or hidden so that pets cannot chew or play with them. There are many clever cord protectors available online or at home improvement stores. If cord hiding/covering is not possible, unplug the cords when they are not in use.
- Do not use electrical blankets with your pets.
- Do not leave glass bowls on a wooden deck or patio. The sun’s rays through the glass can start the wood on fire.
- At night, sleep with the bedroom door closed. In case of a house fire, a closed door will slow the spread of the fire. If you have a cat who sleeps in your room at night, consider keeping a litter box in your bedroom or the attached master bathroom.
While we hope you will never experience a home fire, it’s always important to prepare for the “just in case”. Here are a few tips that will increase your pet’s chances of surviving a home fire:
- Invest in a pet window cling and place it on your front window to alert the firefighters of the number of pets inside, the types of pets inside, and the typical locations of your pets.
- Have a practiced safety plan for your family and pets so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire.
- If possible, keep pets near entrances, such as the living room or kitchen near an exterior door. Make sure pets have collars on at all times. For dog owners, store leashes near an exterior door for easy access. These tips will also help firefighters find your pets and safely remove them from the home.
- We also recommend ID tags and a microchip in case your pet escapes a fire while not secured on a leash or in a carrier.
- We all love our pets very much, but it’s important to appropriately assess a situation to determine if it’s safe for you or a family member to locate and safely grab a pet before leaving a house that is on fire. NEVER risk your life or a family member’s life by re-entering a burning home to save a pet.
Home fires are a scary experience, and we know they are hard to think about. But when it comes to your family’s safety, it’s important to take some extra steps to prevent your pet from starting a fire and for your entire family to be prepared in this type of emergency. If you do not currently have an emergency plan for your family that includes your pets, we strongly encourage creating one.
- Pet Fire Safety: Protecting Your Pets from Potential Danger (Red Cross)
- Fire Safety and Your Pets: Keeping Them Safe from the Unexpected (ASPCA)
- 5 Steps to Create a Fire Safety Plan (ASPCA)
- Household Pet Evacuation Kit & Tips (National Fire Protection Association)