Our pets are part of our family. Some consider their dogs and cats to be children. They provide companionship and add joy to our lives. It is not something we like to think about, but keeping our pets safe during a fire or natural disaster is something we must prepare for. A home fire is the most top of mind event we can prepare for through prevention and safety awareness. In fact, fire kills more people in the US than all natural disasters combined with over 1.6 million fires in 2007. However, there are many other emergencies that can separate pets from their owners, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. It is important to keep our pets and families safe by being prepared.
Fires can occur through a variety of causes including candles, natural disasters, lightening, smoking, Christmas trees, electrical, gas leaks, fireworks, space heaters, arson etc. However the top causes for home fires (38%) are from cooking and heating accidents, according to the USFA. In fact, December, January and February are top months due to colder weather. In the spring and summer months, lightening fires are more prevalent.
According to the NFPA, a home fire is reported every 79 seconds to a fire department and 4 out of every 5 fire deaths resulting from home fires. Only 25% of home fires occur at night, so many occurs during the day when you are not home with your pets.
Some things to prevent and prepare your home and pets from fire and natural disasters:
– Install and frequently check smoke alarms, chimneys, grills, etc.
– Keep pets away from candles, grills, open flames, etc and never leave a home and pet unattended with an open flame. Keep flammable items such as dishtowels and oven mitts away from what you are cooking.
– Make sure neighbors know you and your pets, and that they have an emergency number for you and your vet's number. If you feel comfortable, give them a key and your alarm code.
– Have a plan. Decide in advance how your family will handle a fire or disaster and review often, including how to handle the pets. This includes having a plan for animals that are in crates or bound to a room while you are away.
– Have a doggie or kitty door installed.
– Keep an emergency supply kit and include pet items such as food or medication, vaccination records, leashes and a favorite toy to comfort your pet.
– Make sure your animals wear ID tags and / or are micro chipped in case they get separated from your family or get spooked and separated from your home.
– Clearly mark the front and back entrances with a Pet Safety sticker to alert emergency workers that there are pets inside your house. These can be found online at: http://www.bigpawdesigns.com/petrewicl.html
Keeping your furry friends happy and healthy by including them in your fire safety plans. More safety and prevention tips can be found online at the NFPA and the AKC.
Sources: USFA, NFPA, AKC, NFPA 2007 Fire statistics