July is a month marked by heat, dry grass, fireworks, and outdoor fires—all of which can pose a danger to pets. House fires are one such danger. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately 500,000 pets are affected by home fires each year.
In 2008, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security declared July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day as a day to raise awareness about house fires and to educate pet owners on how to prevent them and keep your pets safe.
Preventing Pets from Starting Fires
About 1,000 house fires are started by pets each year in the United States. Many of these incidents are avoidable if these simple preventative measures are taken.
Candles are a common sight in most people’s homes. Always blow candles out before leaving the house. Curious pets can harm themselves investigating the flame and wagging tails can easily swipe a jar off the table. If you have an extra mischievous pet (i.e. puppies!) it may be wise to invest in the flameless variety.
The number-one cause of fires started by pets is your stovetop. Dogs can inadvertently switch on a burner while jumping up to get a sniff or steal a snack (a.k.a. counter surfing). Remove or cover knobs on the stove if they are within reach of your pet or keep the kitchen blocked off (i.e. by using baby gates) while you are out of the house if pets have a habit of getting into trouble.
Electrical cords and wires can look like fun and tasty toys to a bored pet. Try to keep phone chargers and plug-in appliances out of chewing-reach - especially for teething puppies and kittens!
- Unexpected Cause
There may be an unexpected source of fire sitting on your deck and you don’t even know it: glass water bowls. Glass water bowls act like a magnify glass and when hit with the sun’s rays, can ignite a fire on decks or dry grass. Stick to stainless steel or ceramic for your outdoor bowls and keep pets inside when temperatures rise.
Pet Rescue Safety
In the event a fire occurs when you are not home, you might not be the first one to get to your pet. Being prepared for a fire can mean the difference between a speedy rescue and a panic situation.
- Plan Ahead
As you put together your Disaster Preparedness plans, include instructions for all pets that will be inside or outside the house. Be sure to include your pet’s favorite hiding place or safe haven. This can help first responders save time in an emergency.
It’s best practice to keep your pet’s microchips and ID tags up-to-date. Ensure your dog is wearing a collar in the event of an escape, as well as to make it easier for rescuers to handle the pet when frightened. Leashes should also be kept in a visible location to grab-and-go at a moment’s notice.
- Alert Rescuers
Pet alert window stickers inform first responders of your pet’s presence inside the house. Place stickers on windows near each entrance. Be sure to include the number of pets in the house and species.
In partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council, pet owners can obtain a FREE Pet Fire Safety Window Cling at local volunteer firehouses nationwide on National Pet Fire Safety Day on July 15th.
Staying aware and being prepared could save you avoidable heartache if a disaster strikes. Your pets are part of your family and deserve to be protected!