October is fire safety month and while you’re replacing the smoke detector batteries and reviewing your family’s fire escape plan, don’t forget your furry friends. Each year, house fires affect an estimated 500,000 pets, 40,000 of which die from smoke asphyxiation, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Here are eight ways you can make sure your cat or dog reaches safety.
Practice, practice, practice. Let’s face it: Rehearsing your family’s fire escape plan can feel a little silly, and it may even elicit giggles from your little ones. But practicing the drill with pets will help children better understand the consequences of a potential emergency. As part of your evacuation plan, divide and conquer. Decide which family member will be responsible for which pet. Then decide what you have to do in order to get each animal out of the house safely. Account for dogs that need to be let out of crates or gated areas. Place cats in carriers and lead dogs to safety using a leash. Animals are likely to flee in the midst of a terrifying situation like firefighters showing up at the doorstep. Revise your plan when the health status of anyone in the house (human or pet) changes. If you (or Fido) are hobbling around in a cast, or heavily pregnant, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
Know your pet’s hiding places. If there’s a fire, your pet will be scared and likely retreat to the place where he feels most safe. Take note of these cubbies and crevices so you’ll know right where to go in the event of an emergency.
Don’t stash her tags in the junk drawer. Keep your pet’s current license and vaccination tag on her collar to help with identification if you become separated. Keep in mind that the best way to ensure easy identification is to have the animal microchipped.
Stick ‘em up. Place decals on your windows to alert firefighters that you have pets inside. Free pet alert window clings are available from ADT Security Services or your local fire department. The stickers have spaces for you to note the number of pets in your home along with their breeds and descriptions. If you no longer have a pet, take his sticker down.
Go wild with smoke detectors. Place at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home. Kitchens and bedrooms are good places to stick them, but don’t forget about the garage and basement, too. Mark your calendar to check and change batteries regularly, at daylight savings time or on the first day of each new season, for example.
Make sure your fire department is ready. Check with your local fire department to see if they carry pet oxygen masks on the trucks. If they don’t, ask neighborhood pet owners to join you in making a donation toward the life-saving purchase.
Pack a pet first aid kit. When preparing an emergency kit for your family, include pet-friendly items as well. Some necessities include:
- Cat food and treats
- Your pet’s prescription medication
- Cards with the vet’s phone number and the location of the nearest emergency animal hospital
- A copy of your pet’s medical history
- Photos of your pet in case he is missing after a fire
- Towels or blankets
- Adhesive tape
- Hydrogen peroxide for wound treatment
- Saline solution to flush debris from eyes
- Rubber gloves
Lock the good stuff away. You know that fire-safe box where you keep important records like birth certificates and financial docs? This is also a great place to store your pet’s veterinary paperwork.
We know she’s perfect, but don’t forget that your kitty or pup could be the cause of a fire, too. According to the National Fire Protection Association, pets accidentally start nearly 1,000 house fires each year. Here’s what you can do to fire-proof your pet’s surroundings.
Extinguish open flames. Whether it’s a candle, fireplace or your gas stove’s heat source, a warm, glowing light is attractive to curious cats and dogs. Make sure they are not left unattended around open flames. Also, since pets are notorious for knocking over candles with one swoosh of their tails, consider purchasing flameless candles, which contain small light bulbs instead of wicks. At the very least, you’ll prevent the unsightly and uncomfortable whisker singe.
Don’t be fooled: She’s not cooking. Remove or cover stove knobs when you’re not around. According to the NFPA, this is the number one way a pet can start a fire in your home.
Choose outdoor dinnerware wisely. Don’t leave glass water cat bowls on wooden decks. When filtered through the glass and water, the sun’s rays can heat up and ignite the wood. Opt for stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.
Keep curious paws away from cords. Cats are especially interested in exploring anything that looks like string. Keep electrical wires and power cords secured and out of your pet’s reach.