Show of hands: Who here has had something knocked over by the tail of an overly excited dog, or had to purchase a new power cord because your cat decided she just had to chew through it? It’s a pretty safe bet many of you have experienced these or similar scenarios courtesy of your four-legged best friends. While these incidents typically elicit eye rolls, smirks and some giggles, they can also become the cause of fires that could harm your pets, your home and the rest of your family.
Started in 2009 through a partnership between the American Kennel Club and ADT, National Pet Fire Safety Day (July 15) was created to alert pet owners to potential fire hazards in their homes, as well as provide information on fire prevention and emergency response. Because TVC is dedicated to the health and happiness of your pets, in observance of National Pet Fire Safety Day we’ve compiled a list of fire prevention tips and resources that can help you in the event of a fire emergency.
Fire Protection and Prevention Tips for Your Pet
- As is always recommended, make sure candles, fireplaces or any other sources of open flame are extinguished before you leave your home.
- Secure stove knobs or remove them when not in use. Excitable pets that love to jump can easily bump a stove knob into the ON position. This is actually the most common way fires are started by pets.
- Protect power cords from gnawing little teeth by securing them underneath furniture, placing them under rubberized power cord protectors or removing them from the room (whenever practical) if the pet will be left in there unattended.
- Block off and create a pet-free zone (at least three feet) around items, equipment and places that house flames or get very hot, to prevent your pet from being injured or creating the potential for a fire.
- Invest in multiple fire alarms throughout your home and routinely check their batteries. Also consider investing in a carbon monoxide alarm.
- Don’t use a glass bowl for food or water, especially in sunlight as this can create a magnifying glass effect that concentrates the sunlight into a small beam that can start a flame.
- If your pet has a house or bed outside that they use, make sure it’s not surrounded by combustible materials or located in an area where they would be cut off from escape in the event of a fire.
Emergency Response Tips and Resources for Your Pet
- Make sure your pet always has their collar on and/or microchip information up-to-date (and keep a record of their chip number on your phone or somewhere you can access it post-emergency).
- Keep pets in a set room when you are away so you can confidently tell emergency responders where your pet is located so they can quickly locate and extract them. And if your pets have regular hiding spots, make first responders aware of those locations.
- Place an emergency alert window cling prominently so that emergency responders are aware of pets in the home. If you do not have one, you can purchase one at most pet stores or you can request a free emergency alert decal and pet safety kit through the ASPCA.
- If you can’t locate your pet quickly during a fire, head outside and leave open a route for them to escape, which may mean leaving the front door open or opening a window to the room you were in. As long as it is safe for you to do so, be near the opening and continue to call to them.
- Does your local fire department have emergency equipment for your pets? Not every fire station is equipped to handle the unique emergency needs of our four-legged best friends. If you’re not certain, contact your local department or station to find out. In the event they aren’t, suggest that they apply to Project Breathe by Invisible Fence Brand to have a pet oxygen mask kit donated to their station.
- Establish a fire escape plan for your home that incorporates your pet and designates who is responsible for securing the pet, who will be in charge of grabbing leashes/carriers and settle on a designated meetup location.
- Enlist a friend or family member who will house your pet while you are out of your home. Depending on the severity of the fire, you may not be able to return home for a while. Having a place with a familiar and friendly face that they can settle into immediately after and not have to be shuffled around is ideal for your frazzled friend.
- Create an emergency evacuation list/bug-out bag for your pet. This will help you immediately begin providing care and comfort to your pet following an emergency without having to scramble to remember important information or worrying with having to go purchase needed items during a very traumatic time. We have created a template to help you get started that you can download here. Be sure to swap out the emergency rations of food, water and medication as they get close to expiration.
- Make a pre-emptive Lost Pet flyer with all pertinent information that you can immediately distribute to neighbors, vet clinics and local shelters in the event your pet is lost during the chaos. Include a clear and recent photo, their name and microchip info, your name and contact info and anything else that may help identify or locate them. Keep this file saved on your phone or in an online location so you can begin distribution as soon as possible.