One of the things that many pet owners worry about is what happens to their pet in a fire. Fires strike in seconds and can spread very rapidly. A mobile home or small house can burn to the ground in less than fifteen minutes. You have mere moments to react sometimes. Here are some fire safety tips to help make the survival of your family pets more likely, in the event of a fire.
Things to Have in Place
First of all, you should have a plan for how to evacuate safely with your pets. Everyone in the household should know what their responsibilities are in the event of a fire.
- Keep leashes near both front and back doors at all times. This will make getting out the door far easier in the event that you ever need to do so in a hurry.
- Keep cat carriers handy so you can grab your cat and toss him in. He should be used to the carrier. Feed him in it from time to time with the door open so that he isn’t resistant to getting into it.
- Practice fire drills with your family.Everyone should know which exit to use, and older children can be assigned to take a pet with them in multi-pet households.
- Place a sign in the window next to your front door that lets firemen know how many animals are in the home and their species. Firemen have big hearts and they will try very hard to save and account for each animal you’ve listed. All fire trucks are now equipped with special masks to give oxygen to animals and revive them quickly from smoke inhalation.
- In the event that you live in places that are routinely evacuated due to wildfires, have a kit in your trunk at all times with bottled water, blankets, extra dog/cat/pet food and keep extra pet related products on hand as well – toys, bedding, and things you’ll need and not have time to grab. Lots of bottles of water and a first aid kit should be packed in the car and ready to go at all times as well.
- Keep paperwork in the car that lists all the animals with vaccination records in the event that you are involved in a crash or somehow incapacitated yourself while fleeing a wildfire. This will help rescue crews know that animals are possibly missing at a crash scene and they will look for them and alert rescues in the area for you.
- Have an evacuation plan in place for your home. Each person, even children, need to know exactly what their role is. Teenagers can be in charge of leashing one pet and getting to the car. Have a staging area. Everyone needs to know where to find each other once out of the house.
Prevention of Fires with Pets
- Never leave the stove unattended if you have something cooking.
- Do not burn candles. Opt for small lights with LEDs. Use plug-in air fresheners rather than potpourri that has a flame. Dog tails and cats knock things over. A dog can also go walking by, wag their tail, and light themselves on fire.
- If your stove has knobs that are on the front and can easily be bumped on, find a way to secure the area so that a dog can’t accidentally turn gas on, or heat an electric burner.
- Be extremely careful with extension cords and appliances with cords. Pets knock these things over by tripping in wires, they may chew on an electrical cord, exposing wires and cause a fire. Many pets are also electrocuted each year by chewing on a live wire.
- If you have a fireplace, use a screen and use a pet fencing to keep animals well away from sparks and flames.
- Keep flammables well away from sources of heat and sparks in the event that a pet knocks them over.
- Use metal or plastic bowls on outside decks that are in the sunshine. Glass bowls can magnify the rays of the sun and cause untreated lumber to ignite.
- Use crates when you are not home. Pets that can roam the household are great, but often younger ones are not ready to have this responsibility. Consider confining them to a well puppy-proofed room, confine the cat to a bedroom that is safety checked, and/or use crates while you’re away from home. This ensures their safety and also that they can be found quickly if firemen have to enter your home.
- Have a list of animals at the front window closest to the door. In the rooms where animals are confined, leave a note on the doors that clearly say which animals are inside. Firemen will be able to find them quickly with these pet safety front door decals.
Fireproof your Home
Make sure that you use flame retardant fabrics as window treatments, treat upholstery, ensure that your electrical wiring is all up to code and that your insulation is fire retardant as well. Have visible fire extinguishers in your home, at least one on each floor, and teach children how to use them safely.
Install smoke alarms in all rooms of your house and consider using a monitoring service that will alert you to a fire even when you are away. You can call 911 and let dispatch know that the fire alarm is your home and that there are “x” number of dogs or cats inside. They will relay information to crews on the way.
Some monitoring services will be able to already have this information and relay it immediately. Having your decal on the window can save you this concern, but make sure to keep them up to date when you add new pets!
The more you plan for the worst situation, the more likely all of your family, including pets, will survive. No one wants to think about these things, but each year homes burn down at the holidays because of faulty wiring, improperly used extension cords and so forth.
Address concerns with family members before there is a fire, teach children, take fire safety classes when they are offered, and take the time to learn proper CPR and first aid for animals as well as for people. Dogs and cats can be given CPR but it must be done via their nose, so take the time to learn and you might save a dog’s life or a cat one day.
Take Advantage of Free Classes and Services
Many municipalities will have fire safety courses that are open to the public. Some fire departments will come and inspect your home for safety checks if you ask them for advice. Read all that you can.
They often hold open houses and invite the public to come and ask questions and learn about fire safety. This is a perfect venue to start teaching your children about fire safety and learn directly from the fire chief how to keep your pet safe as well.
Many local fire departments are happy to assist you if you have questions and you can build a relationship with your local firehouse so that they know your home and pets before there is an emergency.
Many times there are stickers that are free that you can place on the front door or window to let fire crews know how many of what pets are in the house. This information is invaluable when they enter your home and the stickers are generally free but can be bought also.
Support your local fire department and any classes and training that they do, take advantage of. Teach your children about the perils of candles, open flames and pets too. It is far better that they grow up understanding the risks. They will become safety-conscious adults when they are grown.
As you can see, there is a lot to do but none of it is difficult. Plan as a family. Have everything in place. Prepare for the worst and practice your plan. Know how to get out, where to meet and who is responsible for getting the dog, the cat, the hamster, etc. You have several minutes to get out. It isn’t long but if you practice and all things are already in place, it’s enough time.
Check your smoke alarms each month. Designate someone in your house to be in charge of them and someone else to be the one who follows-up. Having a two-step verification that it has been done is the safest way.
Include the dog and cat in your practice drills. The more they are used to this the better, as well. Animals learn by repetition, so when something is done the same way over and over, they are very good at following commands and going with the flow.
The more you practice, the better your odds are that you’ll all be safe in a fire, including your pets. Take all the necessary precautions and make preparations. Learn all that you can and teach your children well. Practice. It’s better to know the drills and not need them than the alternative.