Pet fire safety is an important topic, but sadly, it’s one that many pet owners are not overly familiar with.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to keep your pet safe if a fire should occur.
July can be an especially dangerous month for fires (think heat, dry grass, and fireworks), which is why National Pet Fire Safety Day is on July 15th.
It’s a good time to begin educating yourself about fire safety and creating an evacuation plan if you don’t have one already.
Extinguish open flames. Pets are very curious, so never leave a candle burning unattended or walk away from a fire in your fireplace. Thoroughly extinguish any open flames before you leave the house or simply before you leave the room.
Protect stove knobs. The stove is the top piece of equipment involved in pets starting fires, so before you leave the house, remove your stove knobs if you can or just protect them with a cover.
Use flameless candles. Flameless or electric candles have a light bulb instead of an open flame. They still look pretty, and best of all, you eliminate the possibility of a wagging tail knocking over a lit candle and starting a fire.
Secure pets. When you’re away from home or unable to keep an eye out, keep your pet in a crate or behind a baby gate where they can’t get to fire-starting hazards.
You should also secure lamps and electrical objects that have cords; they can be dangerous.
Here are a few ways to make sure your pet will be safe and sound in the event of a fire.
If your dog has a doghouse outside, make sure it is not near flammable materials or brush. Since your dog might run to the doghouse if he gets scared during a fire, don’t put it too near the house, either.
On that note, pay attention to where your pet hides when they get scared — if there’s a fire and you can’t find them, you can search those places first.
Your family should have an escape plan to use in the event of a fire. Include your pets in the plan, too.
This plan should include things such as how to get out of each room in the home and where to go. Assign one family member to get your pet and someone else to grab supplies such as the leash and carrier. When your family does fire drills, always include your pets in the drills too.
If the house is on fire and you can’t find your pet, leave the home and leave a door open (if possible, a door that your pet uses often). Continue calling for your pet, but do not go back inside the house; call 911.
This is a scenario that you may want to include in fire drills — calling for your pet outside the door.
Finally, find a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor who can keep your pet. If your house is damaged by fire, your family will have to find somewhere else to stay temporarily, and pets may or may not be allowed wherever you end up — so it’s best to have a go-to emergency contact and to make these arrangements ahead of time.
Prepare a first-aid kit and keep it nearby in case you need to flee your home with an injured pet. If your dog or cat sustains burns or other injuries, they’ll need to see a vet, but a pet first-aid kit might help in the interim or for small scrapes or injuries.
If your pet is hiding in the house while a fire rages, they might inhale smoke; the Pet Poison Helpline says this can cause severe lung injury to your pet.
Coughing, inflammation, swelling, and difficulty breathing could be signs of smoke inhalation injury. Firefighters and paramedics will know what to do if this takes place (such as giving your pet oxygen to ward off carbon monoxide poisoning). Always visit your vet if your pet suffers from any smoke inhalation.
Pets are more likely to suffer smoke inhalation than to sustain burns, as their natural instinct is to hide from the fire instead of attempting to run through it. Burned paws or singed whiskers are also common pet fire-related injuries.
House fires are a scary thought. But by being prepared ahead of time and knowing what to do, you can keep yourself and your pet safe. In the meantime, consider taking out an active pet insurance policy to protect your furry family members.