According to the National Fire Protection Association, house fires affect 500,000 pets annually; and approximately 1,000 house fires are caused by pets. Many of these fires begin with an open flame (stovetop, fireplace, or candle), and are easily preventable. Which is why the American Kennel Club (in partnership with ADT Security) declared July 15th as national Pet Fire Safety Day in 2009. The focus: To help pet owners prevent fires and plan for unanticipated emergencies.
Here are ten fire safety tips you can practice to reduce the risk of a house fire, respond effectively in an emergency, and keep your pets out of harm’s way.
1. Don’t leave an open flame unattended. Pets are naturally curious, but are unable to understand the risks posed by fire. A toppled candle or spilled grease can quickly become a tragic inferno.
2. Secure stove knobs. Some curious pets are particularly adept when it comes to turning knobs. If your pets can turn a doorknob, they can probably turn a stove knob. Stow the stove knobs in a drawer when not in use or purchase knob safety covers.
3. Avoid candles. If you have pets (especially cats), a lit candle can be an irresistible temptation. If you still want the ambience of candlelight, try an electronic alternative. It may be less romantic, but it’s safer.
4. Secure your fireplace. A fireplace can be a cozy gathering spot for family and pets, but a stray spark can quickly ignite nearby a rug or dog bed. Avoid placing fabric items near a fireplace that’s in use, and consider a glass fireplace guard to keep embers in their place.
5. Secure electrical cords. Pets can easily mistake a tangle of electrical wires for a chew toy. Check online for creative ways to bind cords together and secure them out of sight.
6. Avoid placing glass water bowls on wood decks. Here’s one you may not have considered—a glass water bowl left in the sun can act as a magnifying glass and focus the sun’s rays into a hot beam. On a wood deck not properly treated with flame-retardants, that heat could start a fire. Consider using a plastic or metal bowl instead.
7. Keep leashes ad collars near the door. If you need to leave your home in an emergency, keep your pet gear handy and close to a safe exit. If your pets are not microchipped, be sure they have identification on their collars in case they become lost during a home evacuation.
8. Pet-proof a room for young pets. Energetic young pets are far more likely to get into mischief than are their more cautious and sedate elders. If you’re planning to leave them alone in the house for more than a few minutes, you may want to consider a crate or pet-proofed room to keep them out of trouble. For longer trips, consider boarding your pets at a reputable kennel.
9. Have a fire evacuation plan in place. It’s always a good idea to have a fire evacuation plan and to practice getting your pets out of harm’s way. Assigning a family member responsibility for each pet can help avoid confusion in an emergency.
10. Use fire alert window decals. These handy, easy-to-apply window stickers let first responders know how many pets are in the home and where they may be located. This is a huge help to fire personnel when trying to locate and rescue a frightened or unconscious pet.
We hope these tips will help keep you and your pets out of harm’s way.
Editor's note: National Fire Prevention Week in the US is October 8-14, 2017. For more information about preventing fires, creating a pet fire safety checklist and keeping pets safe during and after a fire, please visit the National Fire Protection Association's website.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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