Protecting our companion animals is an ongoing and diligent responsibility. We secure them with seatbelts in the car, microchip them so they don’t get lost, use the best collars and leashes and protect them from fleas and ticks but the often it is the unexpected that causes us the most stress. Today we should think about how best our pets are protected if there is a fire in the house and what to do about your pets. Even with an installed safety system and fire detectors, your pet may flee from both the smoke and the alarms. Did you know pets started over 1,000 house fires last year?
Tips to make sure Fido doesn’t burn down your house.
- Use flameless candles that have a light bulb instead of a wick. Never leave pets unattended in the presence of an open flame, whether it’s a candle, fireplace, stove, or any other fire they can reach or accidentally knock over.
- If your dog is tall enough on their hind legs to reach counter height, remove stove knobs when you leave the kitchen, or you can find knob covers that will keep them from turning on the stove accidentally. The NFPA says a stove or cooktop is the number-one cause of fires started by pets.
- Electrical cords can sometimes be seen by your dog as a chew toy. When damaged, they can spark and cause electrocution or a fire. Secure any cords and hide them behind furniture or other obstructions. You may wish to unplug them if you leave cords unattended or spray them with something bitter as a deterrent. Further aversion training may be needed if your dog still tries to chew cords.
- Do not leave your dog on an electric blanket unattended. Dogs can chew on these, exposing the wires, which can cause electrocution or heat up and catch the blanket on fire. Replace any old electric blankets that show wear and tear.
- Check your home for potential hazards such as loose wires, stove knobs, and piles of paper or other rubbish
If there is a house fire, alert the fireman that you have a pet in the house, but never risk going back in to find your pet! Dogs are often waiting at doors and run out when firefighters come in. Post a sticker on your window alerting first responders that a pet lives in the home – free stickers will be available at local fire stations on July 15th and some Humane Societies. If you have your pet in a crate when you are out, make sure the crate is near a door or window so firefighters can find them easily. Pets are more likely to be injured or to die in a fire when they are locked in a kennel or room away from an exit and aren’t discovered by firefighters.
Have an emergency plan and practice routes of escape with your dog. Include all members of the family in this plan. Make sure they know what to do and where to go.
Make an emergency kit that you can easily grab on the way out. Pack a leash, medication, and any immediate needs your dog might have for the next few days.