Many of us learn about fire safety as part of our early education. We learn how to prevent fires and we prepare emergency fire-escape plans. But, did you ever consider including your pets in these plans? Or that your pet could actually cause a fire in your home? According to the American Red Cross, “[t]he National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets.” Continue reading to learn common ways that pets start fires and how you can prevent a fire, and for tips on preparing your pet for a fire in your home.
The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true with pet fire safety. Knowing how pets commonly cause house fires and what you can do to prevent these disasters is vital.
- Stove knobs — Remove or cover all knobs when not in use. While this may sound excessive, stove knobs are the No. 1 culprit for house fires started by pets. Try to discourage pets—particularly cats—from jumping onto counters or the stove area.
- Open flames — Any type of open flame is potentially dangerous for an animal, especially when she is playing nearby. Fireplaces, charcoal grills, fire pits, and candles are all potential hazards. Animals are known to knock over candles and sweep through an open flame with their tails and can easily cause a fire, or be seriously harmed themselves. Discourage your pet from playing near any of these hazards, and never leave her unattended around an open flame. If you must leave the room or the area, ensure your pet follows you. Consider replacing all wick-burning candles with electric or battery-operated flameless varieties.
- Electrical cords — Some pets, especially cats and young animals, think electrical cords are fun toys. Chewing on these items could electrocute your pet or start a fire. Protect your four-legged family members by ensuring that all electrical cords are inaccessible. Cover the cords, or rearrange your furniture so that dressers or bookcases are on top of the cords and your pet cannot access them.
While no one wants to imagine dealing with a house fire, lack of preparation may be worse. With some planning and attention to detail, you can ensure your pets are as safe as possible in the event of a fire.
- Rescue alerts — Place rescue-alert stickers or window decals that include the number of household pets in visible areas, ideally near or on the front door or another entry. If you gain or lose any pets, be sure to update the decal information. The American Society for the Protection of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) offers free stickers.
- Location, location — Obviously, people and pets can escape a house fire more easily if they are situated close to an exit. Therefore, try to position crates or pet beds accordingly. At the minimum, know where your pet—especially your cat—likes to rest or hide.
- Smoke detectors — Ensure that all home smoke detectors are in working order. If your pets often stay home alone, consider investing in an alarm that automatically signals an emergency responder when smoke is detected.
- Identification — Confirm that your pets are properly identified with current contact information, either in the form of traditional collars and identification tags or microchipping, or, ideally, both. If your pet escapes during a house fire, she can be easily traced to you when she is found. Ensure that all pet carriers are labeled with your contact information.
- Emergency kits — Prepare an emergency kit that is easily accessible in an emergency. Stock the kit with non-perishable foods, medications, current photos of your pets, leashes, food and water bowls, bottled water, and other necessary items. The ASPCA offers a complete guide on what to include in an emergency kit.
Fire safety is an incredibly important topic in any home, and households with pets are no exception. Prevention and preparation for a fire emergency are key in safeguarding you and your pets. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns involving pet fire safety.