Protecting Your Pets from a Home Fire
When it comes to house fire prevention, most people have a plan. But does your home fire safety plan include your pet? Pets are a part of the family. We care for them as we would a child. The most important thing to do to protect your pets, is to evacuate with them. However, it is important to never delay escape or endanger yourself or family to rescue a pet.
- Install smoke detectors and fire alarms. Ensure your home is equipped with fire extinguishers.
- Prevent your pet from starting a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 1,000 home fires per year are accidentally started by a pet. You can minimize your chance of a pet-started home fire by: extinguishing open flames before leaving the house; protect stove knobs with covers; secure young pets in a crate or within a safe boundary like a baby gate.
- Keep collars on and leashes handy. Always leave collars on pets. Keep leashes handy should emergency personnel need to rescue your beloved pet. If your pet is crated, keep the crate near an entrance to your home.
- Attach a pet alert window sticker to your front window. These handy window clings are available at most pet stores. The sticker or cling allows you to include critical information such as the number of pets within the home.
- Note where your pet likes to hide. In an emergency situation, knowing your pet’s location will save time and ensure a safe escape for all.
- Have the number and address of your animal hospital handy.
- Practice your escape plan with your pet. Include your pet in fire and safety drills. Train your pet to come when you call them. Ensure they are comfortable in a crate so you can grab them and go.
- Take a pet first aid training. The American Red Cross offers a cat and dog first aid course online.
- In the event of emergency evacuation, take pets within you when possible. However, if you or your family are in immediate danger, you should not delay escape to rescue a pet.
- Immediately inform responders if your pet is still inside. If it is unsafe to evacuate with your pet, first responders will look for your pet.
- Bring leash and carrier. If there is no time to secure your pet prior to escape, you should attach a leash or put them in a carrier once safely outside.
- Never go inside a burning house. If you cannot find your pet, leave the door open and call them from a safe distance.
- Check your pet for injury and smoke inhalation. Once you are safe from a home fire, it’s time to assess your pet. If your pet is having trouble breathing, ask rescue personnel about pet oxygen masks. If you have taken a pet first aid class, you will be better equipped to handle this situation.
- Have your pet examined by a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. Smoke inhalation can cause injuries and death to your pet.
- Find a loving home to temporarily house your pet if you are no longer able to. Ask your veterinarian for recommended boarding facilities, or find a family member to care for your pets.
Make sure your family is aware of the pet fire safety plan. Run fire drills and regularly check fire safety equipment. Knowing the plan will safe valuable time in case of an emergency.