For the seventh year running, the United States is set to observe National Pet Fire Safety Day on the 15th of July. This commemorative event was started by the American Kennel Club to help protect beloved furry family members from dangerous fire-related incidences.
Active, curious pets can cause trouble for you and your family (and themselves too) if they aren’t supervised. Just a few smart precautions can make a world of difference in terms of potential safety hazards. This year, we’ve highlighted the most important tips and tricks you can use as a pet owner to make sure your four-legged family members stay far away from smoke and fire.
Check, Check and Double-Check
- Check up on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to ensure they are working properly. Place smoke detectors outside every room in the home. Curious pets can accidentally start fires on their own, so consider installing monitored smoke detectors to help firefighters quickly respond to a house fire even if you’re not there.
- Check around your home for fire hazards like loose wires and stove knobs, discarded paper products, and other flammable junk. Outside, clear dry brush away from the house and keep pet pens away from any dry leaves or vegetation that could easily become fuel in a fire.
- If your pet can stand up tall enough to reach the counter, place kitchen appliances up high and remove stove knobs whenever you leave home. If your animal can get to cords and electrical wires easily, they may be tempted to give them a good chew – make sure those are out of sight and out of mind too.
When In Doubt, Put It Out!
- Cats and dogs are attracted to light and motion – including open flames from candles and fireplaces. Make sure to keep an eye out on your pets whenever there is an open flame in the room and extinguish it when you leave. If you must leave the flame on without your supervision, get your pets to a different room and make sure they can’t get to it.
- Use flameless candles whenever possible. They may be less romantic and aromatic than regular candles, but they are battery-operated and therefore less likely to start a fire if knocked over onto carpet or fabric.
Protect Youngsters and Outdoor Pets
- Small pets and puppies and kittens can get through very tiny openings, so make sure your pet is in a secure place if you are unable to keep your eye on them at all times. Young pets are notorious troublemakers – keeping them in a crate or pen will reduce the likelihood of their setting the house ablaze while you’re away running errands.
- Outdoor pets should be given special attention too. If they run away from your yard during a fire, it’s important that they have some form of identification, either in the form of a collar or a microchip.
Shop for Fire-Stoppers
- Purchase a pet alert window cling from a pet store or get a free one online from the ASPCA. These stickers tell firefighters how many pets are inside the home, and help remind them to make sure everyone has made it out okay.
- Already popular with some pet lovers, a home security “pet cam” allows you to monitor your animals while you’re gone at work or on a brief vacation. Pet monitoring systems are becoming more and more sophisticated, and can now alert the proper authorities if a fire starts.
Emergency Rescue Plans
- Your family evacuation plan should include instructions for the animals as well. Decide in advance who will be responsible for each pet if a fire breaks out. One handy tip is to store your pets’ leashes, treats, extra toys and some food inside a washtub near an exit. This keeps it all handy in one place and, if you have to evacuate because of fire, you won’t be caught empty-handed for Fluffy or Fido. Always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a carrier. They will likely panic at the smell of smoke and loud noises, and if they take off without you they may be impossible to find.
- If your pet is kenneled while you’re away, make sure that the kennel is in an easy to find location in the home. Know your pet’s preferred hiding spots, they may run and hide there if your home has caught fire. Put their cubbyholes on a map of your own escape route.
According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, approximately half a million pets each year are affected by fires in the home. Do your part as a pet parent to protect your beloved animals from the dangers of smoke inhalation and flames!
Celebrate National Pet Fire Safety Day this year on July 15th, and visit the ASPCA website for more information about how to keep your pets safe all year round.