Pet Fire Safety

In honor of Pet Fire Safety Day on July 15, we thought it would be a good idea to share a few fire safety tips with pet owners. Most people may not think about the chance of a home fire, but half a million pets are affected annually by house fires, and unfortunately 40,000 of those pets are killed. Do you know what you would do if there were a fire in your home? It can be a scary thought, especially when there are pets and children involved. However, by being prepared for emergency situations like a fire, you can ensure a better outcome for your family.

The first thing to consider is preventing potential fires by practicing pet fire safety. Ensure that pets are never left unattended around open flames; this can include cooking appliances, candles, and even a fireplace. You can use flameless (battery operated) candles or keep unlit jar candles open for their scent. If you keep a water bowl outside for pets, use metal or ceramic ones on wooden decks. Glass bowls can intensify sunlight as it travels through the water and can start a fire on a wooden surface. When you’re away, secure young pets in a crate or gated area away from fire-starting hazards like electrical cords. Regularly test the batteries in your smoke detectors, and consider getting a carbon monoxide detector, as this gas can kill both people and pets.

What are some things you can do to help keep your pets safe in the event a fire occurs while you’re away? Place a sign on your front window indicating the number of pets inside the home. These signs are available from many rescue organizations, and we even have them here at the Metairie Small Animal Hospital. Be sure the signs are kept up to date with the number of pets living in your home. It also is a good idea to include a phone number on the sign so rescuers can quickly contact you about your pets’ location. By utilizing monitored smoke alarms, the fire department can be contacted even if you are not there to call them. Keep pets near entrances on the ground floor when you are away. By containing them to the front areas of your home, this will ensure emergency personnel can see and evacuate pets.

The last thing to consider is what you would do if a fire occurred when you were home. The first step is to stay calm! By keeping a level head, you will not only make better decisions on the proper course of action, you will also help keep your pets calm until they can be rescued and out of danger. Our next step is to put an evacuation plan into place. Come up with your plan now so it’s easier to implement in case it’s needed. Assign a family member to each pet, if possible. Keep leashes and carriers near entrances for quick access and escape. Don’t be afraid to be creative; you can use a pillowcase or towel to move a scared cat. Pets should always be somehow contained if they have to be evacuated. Know your pets’ typical hiding places so you can easily find them. Finally, be sure to think of your own safety; you may not be able to gather all pets before you have to evacuate. If you must leave the home with pets still inside, leave a door open so they can escape from the burning building. Even timid animals will typically follow their survival instincts to escape from smoke and fire.

What are some other things you can do ahead of time to make an evacuation go more smoothly? 1) Practice escape routes, and arrange a meeting spot or safe haven ahead of time. 2) Be sure all pets regularly wear a collar with an identification tag that contains at least one up-to-date phone number. 3) Prepare an emergency kit that contains your pets’ vaccination and medical records, in addition to any special food or medications. This can be kept near the main exit or in the trunk of a car. If you end up needing to board your pets, you will need their vaccination records. For information about putting together a pet emergency kit, see the HSUS’s website.

Here is some addition information on pet fire safety, and as always, please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.