Since we became foster parents of our 18-year-old son with autism (our biological son–it’s complicated) we had to complete a once-a-month fire drill for the state of Texas. We decided to include our dog, Boomer, in the drills because we would NOT be leaving our dog behind if we had a fire. The agency who receives our fire drill reports was amused that we listed Boomer Bowen (the dog) in our list of people participating in the required fire drill.
July 15th was National Pet Fire Safety Day. Do you have a plan for your pets if a fire should occur? From the time you hear the smoke alarms or smell smoke, you likely have about 2 minutes to get to safety. Have you sounded your fire alarms while your pet is in the home so that they will get conditioned to the noise?
1. Start by identifying two ways out of each room (door/window).
2. If you have other people in the home, establish a meeting location where you will all meet up.
3. Keep a collar on your dog, leashes and cat carriers in an easy-to-access place near an exit point. If you don’t like keeping a collar on your dog, a kennel slip lead would work as well. Pets will likely panic at the smell of smoke and sight of fire, so secure the dog on a leash and put your cat in a carrier before exiting your home. If you have multiple family members, sometimes it is good to assign certain pets to different individuals, but that is not always foolproof. Practice with a pretend fire in a certain location in home (tell your family the fire will be in a certain location the next time you have a drill.
4. If you have birds or other caged pets, decide who is taking charge of them (assuming they can safely do so).
5. If you cannot find or reach your pet before you evacuate, leave an outside door open and call your pet’s name. Be persistent and loud and don’t give up.
What If A Fire Starts When You Are Not At Home
1. You can consider a monitored smoke-detection service so that firefighters can be called at the first sign of smoke (even if you are at home).
2. If you are leaving your pets at home alone, secure them in rooms near entrances. You can use the dog’s crate or use gates to close off a certain room (or the doors to other rooms).
3. Affix a pet alert window cling to the front window. This decal includes the number of pets in your house so first responders know who to look for when they enter the home. Keep them up-to-date as the number of pets increases or decreases in your household. Click here to order your free decal from the ASPCA.
Pets As The Cause of Fires
The National Fire Protection Association says that more than 1000 house fires every year are caused by pets. Pet proof your home against potential fire hazards. This was one case scenario: “Your dog was home alone and saw cake on the stove top. As the dog tried to get a taste, their paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. ”
1. Don’t leave pets unattended around any open flame: Candles, cooking appliances, fireplaces. Of course extinguish open flames if you are leaving the home.
2. Remove stove knobs: A stove or cook top is the most common piece of equipment involved when a pet starts a fire. Removing the knobs or protecting them with child and pet-proof covers is the easiest way to prevent this.
3. Choose flameless candles. It will give you the ambience without the danger.
4. Avoid glass water bowls on a wooden deck. This surprised me as well. If it is hot outside, the sun’s rays can heat up the bowl enough to actually ignite a wooden deck. A stainless steel or ceramic bowl won’t cause this problem.
5. Pet proof your home including electrical wires and power cords which should be secured out of your pet’s reach.