An often-overlooked factor when it comes to your pet’s well-being and your own, is that of pets and fire safety. And, we’re not just talking about emergency considerations in the event of a fire; we’re actually talking about how to keep your pet from starting a fire, which should be of real concern to all pet parents.
We all know that pets are very curious creatures. And, when we’re not around to monitor their every action, they can get bored and get into all sorts of trouble, both intentional and accidental. But, stringing toilet paper down the hall or digging through the trash is nothing compared to the serious damage that they could potentially get into with hot stoves, fireplaces, space heaters, candles and any other potential fire hazard.
It’s estimated that nearly 1,000 house fires are accidentally started each year by animals, including homeowners’ pets. And, when you look at the often inquisitive and determined behaviors of pets, it’s not surprising that they could accidentally start a fire. Just think about it. Have you ever left food on the stove and turned around to see your pet jumping up on it for a bite? See, it can happen just like that!
That’s why we’re sharing these tips for keeping pets and your home safe from accidental fires:
- Avoid Open Flames— Take great care to always extinguish any open flame before you leave your pet home alone. Most pets have no problem going near fireplaces, candles and cooking appliances to check out the bright, shiny light. To them, it’s an inviting friend and challenge.
- Opt for Flameless Candles — Cats in particular are known for knocking over candles, and all it takes is just one flick of the tail. So, instead of keeping open flames out, use battery-powered luminaries.
- Cover Stove Knobs— The stove is the primary place where pets accidentally start fires. If you have a pet that can stand up and reach your stove top or is prone to jumping up on surfaces, it’s best to either remove stove knobs or protect them with covers whenever you’re not around.
- Protect Fireplaces — Any time you light a fire in your fireplace, it’s best to place a metal or heat-tempered glass screen in front so your pet can’t get in.
- Watch Exposed Cords— Some pets will chew absolutely anything, even electrical cords! So, keep a close eye on your pet’s habits, and keep all loose or exposed cords tucked away, out of reach. If there’s something that you can’t hide, be sure to unplug it before you leave your home, or spray it with something bitter to keep your pet at bay.
How to Prepare for a Fire Emergency
Unfortunately, about 40,000 pets die in house fires each year (most from smoke inhalation), according the American Veterinary Medical Association, and more than 500,000 pets are affected by residential fires. It is for this reason and so many more that you should have a solid plan in place to protect your pets in the event that a fire breaks out. Here are some steps you should take:
- Install a Monitored Alarm— If your smoke detector goes off when you’re not home, you won’t know or be able to help your pets. So, consider installing a monitored alarm that will alert you and emergency personnel as soon as they detect a problem.
- Place Pet Alert Stickers in Windows — These stickers let rescuers know when they approach your home that you do have pets inside. So, make them clearly visible, and note the number and type of pets you keep in your home. And, most importantly, as your household changes, make sure you update this information. You can get these stickers online or order them from some rescues or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- Keep Pets Near Entrances— In the event of an emergency rescue, it’s easier to reach pets if they’re kept in rooms or crates near doors. That way, rescuers can easily find them.
- Keep Pet Supplies Near Exits – It’s also a good idea to keep leashes, collars and any medications near the exit so you can easily grab them along with your pet should you need to make a quick exit.
You certainly never want it to happen, but you should always prepare for the worst, especially when it comes to keeping your loved ones safe. So, take the above-mentioned precautions in your home to prevent accidental fires from starting, and have an emergency plan in place just in case.