More than 500,000 pets across the country are affected by structure fires every year. And about 1,000 fires are actually started by the pets themselves. Prevention is the most important part of fire safety and you must be prepared to keep your home and your pet safe in an emergency.
Take a look around the house and ensure there are no areas where pets can start fires accidentally. Pets are often curious and can get into trouble if left alone around burning candles, cooking appliances or even a fire in your fireplace.
To keep your pet from starting a fire:
- put covers on stove knobs or remove them altogether. Pets drawn by the smell of food may nudge the knob just enough to ignite a burner
- do not leave candles unattended: extinguish all open flames when you leave the room so they are not tipped over by a tail or a paw
- always use a fireplace screen
- pet-proof your home: go through each room and eliminate any loose wires that could be a tempting chew toy
- secure young pets: keep puppies or kittens confined away from potential fire hazards- in crates or behind baby gates
If your pets are home alone:
- secure pets near an exit if they are crated, or keep them confined to the first floor when you're away so that firefighters can reach them faster
- make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date information
- consider getting a monitored smoke alarm. If your pets are home alone, they won't be able to get out without help. A monitored smoke alarm alerts a monitoring center whenever the alarm is triggered and firefighters are dispatched to the address.
If you are home and a fire breaks out, expect your pets to be scared. They may run and hide. Know where your pet goes to escape- in a closet, under a bed or under the couch. If you can't find them quickly- YOU need to get out. Don't delay. Leave the house and repeatedly call for your pet from a safe distance. When firefighters arrive, let them know your pet is still inside and where you think they may be hiding.
The best way to protect your loved ones- including those with four legs- is to have an escape plan. Take the time to practice and when you do, practice with your pets. Train them to come to you when you call.
In the event of an emergency, seconds count. You need to plan and prepare to keep your family and your pets safe.