Pets are family, so it’s important to include them in any home evacuation or safety plan in the event of a fire. To increase awareness of this effort, July 15 has been recognized as National Pet Fire Safety Day.
Pet owners and their families need to not only make sure they know how to protect their pets in the case of a fire, they need to know how to prevent their pets from starting fires in the first place. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 40,000 pets die in residential fires each year, most from smoke inhalation, with around half a million pets affected overall. It has been estimated by the AKC that pets are responsible for starting as many as 1,000 of these home fires each year.
Preventing Pets from Causing Fires
How can your pet contribute to starting a fire in your home, and what can you do to prevent it?
Stove Knob Covers
The biggest cause of home fires triggered by pets happens in the kitchen, where a hungry dog in search of treats or leftovers can accidentally turn stove knobs on and ignite the burners. Pet owners can help prevent this possibility by either temporarily removing the knobs when leaving home, or investing in a set of child-proof stove knob covers. To deter your dog’s temptation to even get near the stove, never leave food on your stove top or nearby countertops.
Other Dangerous Curiosities
Other potential fire-starters that curious pets may investigate are electrical cords, fireplaces, candles, and holiday lights. Take extra care not to leave any pets, especially puppies or kittens, in rooms with access to these dangers.
Home Monitoring Systems
Of course, whether they are home alone or with family, pets can become victims of fires caused by a multitude of reasons, the most common being faulty wiring and electric heating units. Even incidents that may trigger smoke without flames can be deadly for pets. The best safety solution for this possibility is adding a home monitoring system to your existing smoke alarms. Firefighters will be immediately notified that smoke or fire has been detected in your home.
Fire Safety Tips for Your Pets
Fortunately, there are many actions pet lovers can take to reduce the risk of harm or death of a family pet in the case of a fire.
Form an Escape Plan
Have a fire escape plan, and practice drills and escape routes, with your pets twice a year.
Secure Your Fireplace
Secure the fireplace. Put a fire screen up to keep your pet from being scorched by fire or embers that might fly up from the hearth. Keep wood, fire starter logs and matches or lighters secure.
Learn Their Hiding Places
Be aware of your pets’ favorite napping or hiding spots around the house. If you have to evacuate your home quickly, you’ll know where to check first.
Rescue Alert Stickers
Get a rescue alert sticker to place near an exit door to let responders know how many pets are inside your home. These stickers should be available at local pet care stores, your vet, or ADT. Keep it up to date.
Prepare Emergency Supplies
Prepare emergency supplies and traveling kits. For each pet, include appropriate food, water and bowls, a towel or blanket, an extra collar with ID information, any medications, and a leash for each dog, and a carrier for each cat.
Place travel kits and carrier cases in a closet or storage area near an exit door, and practice how family members can gather everything quickly. You may need to do some rearranging and make assignments of whom, if time permits, should be responsible for each pet and its gear.
Update Your Pet IDs
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information at all times. Better yet, have them micro-chipped. Most animal shelters can scan and read the chips.
Protect Your Home with Farm Bureau Insurance
Farm Bureau Insurance has been protecting our policyholders against losses from fire for over 70 years. To learn more about our high quality, affordable fire protection policies, contact a local agent.