According to American Humane, more than 500,000 pets are affected by house fires each year. Even more alarming, 1,000 house fires a year are started by pets themselves!
Here are ways to reduce the risk of fire in your home, and make sure you and your dog are prepared in case of a fire emergency.
1. Avoid Open Flames. Keep lit candles out of reach of pets. Place them where they can’t be knocked over, or better yet consider switching to flameless candles. There are many flameless options that offer ambiance and fragrance without the risk of fire. Be sure to keep dogs away from bonfires and grills, too. Never leave a fire unattended.
2. Stay Stove Safe. Big dogs can accidentally turn stove knobs on and start fires – especially with gas stoves. Cover knobs or temporarily pull knobs off when you aren’t using the stove. If you have the option, choose a stove that doesn’t have front-facing or easily accessible knobs.
3. Watch Your Wires. Both fire and electric shock are a danger if dogs chew on cords. Unplug items that aren’t in use, placing the cord out of reach. If your dog likes to chew, use cord protectors or tape to keep cords snug against the wall, or arrange furniture to make cords less accessible. Immediately unplug and repair any wires that get chewed or frayed.
4. Plan for Emergencies. The American Red Cross says that when a fire starts in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape. Create an emergency plan for your family, including your pets. Know your dog’s hiding places, and who will get him or her on the way out of the house. Plan several escape routes in case one is blocked by fire.
5. Be Pet-Ready. Keep a leash near every exit of your home and one in your bedroom, for use in case of emergency. It’s also a good idea to have a doggie “go bag” for fast evacuation, with spare medication, food and water, a copy of your dog’s medical records, and a picture in case he or she gets lost.
6. Alert First Responders. Help emergency personnel take care of your dog in a fire emergency. Hang a sign in your window listing the number and type of pets in your house. Download a free pet alert sign here.
7. Stay Safe After a Fire. Make sure your dog always wears a collar with current ID. Just as important, make sure he or she is microchipped. If you get separated, a microchip is key to making sure your dog is returned to you. Finally, monitor your dog closely after a fire. Lethargy and difficulty breathing are signs that emergency vet care may be needed.
Here are some additional resources to help:
- American Red Cross: Pet Fire Safety
- Banfield: Pet Fire Safety and Preparedness
- American Humane: Pet Fire Safety Day
- Mars Petcare: In Case of Emergency…
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