Who really thinks a house fire could happen to them? Many years ago I did have a fire start in my home while I was at work. “Panic” cannot begin to describe how I felt as I rushed home praying my dogs were safe. Considering that each year over 1.7 million fires occur the in the US with over a half million pets dying in house fires, it shouldn’t be so hard to imagine it happening at our own home. On top of that, pets sometimes contribute to the cause of a fire. What’s a pet owner to do to prevent a fire or at least help our pets get out alive should one happen?
Search your home for fire hazards. Overloaded outlets, frayed/broken cords, and multiple extension cords linked together are easy to find and quick to fix.
Candles are another concern and pets should never be left around them without someone supervising. Curious pets too often knock them over. Exuberant canines with wagging tails knock candles to the floor. Even cats have swished their tails through a flame then ran in panic, spreading the fire. A better choice: flameless candles that mimic the flicker of a flame.
Shop online for fire stickers or simply make your own. Make a small but attention getting sign (red and white?) to place in your front window or on your door reading something like “Fire Fighters! There are 2 dogs, 1 cat and 5 ferrets inside!”
Maintain a working fire extinguisher on every level of your house, especially next to fireplaces and in the kitchen!
All pets should have a collar on and hang leashes by front and back doors to help you get them out safely. It can’t be stressed enough to keep current identification on their tags. If you own cats or ferrets, a pile of pillowcases by the doors can help you secure them and help you to quickly escape with these pets. Besides keeping them from running away it helps protect them from smoke inhalation.
Twice a year (or more!) check the smoke detectors to ensure they are functional.
Stove knobs can be an issue, too. Some experts recommend removing them before leaving home. There have been tragic cases of dogs jumping up to check out what smells so good and inadvertently turning the knobs on resulting in fires.
- Lastly, take a minute to understand the most common causes for house fires. By knowing what they are, you can be more attentive to those possible situations. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the following are the most common causes of house fires: •Cooking •Kids playing with fire •Smoking •Faulty heating •Electrical problems •Candles •Fireplace •Dryers •Flammables in the house •Christmas trees.
Remember: It is up to YOU to plan for unexpected emergencies and do what you can to prevent them!