When it comes to home emergencies, sometimes we may not think to add our pets into the emergency evacuation plans or think to pet proof our homes for when we are away at work or running errands. Pets or wild animals have a part in starting about 750 home fires per year. These involve cooking equipment, fireplaces and chimneys, space heaters, lamps, bulbs, wiring, and candles.
While we may never be able to fully prevent such events from happening, we can prepare ourselves and our pets for when they do. Here are some important tips concerning fire safety in your home with pets:
Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house
Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances and counters. By removing or putting covers on stove knobs, as well as training or discouraging your pet not to climb in the kitchen, will also help aid in fire prevention. The accidental nudge of a stove knob is the number one cause of house fires started by pets.
Secure or keep loose wires and cords out of reach from your pets
Some pets may like to chew on your loose wires and cords, which can ultimately lead to a house fire. Be sure to either secure your loose wires and cords or keep them out of reach from your pet.
Do not leave your pet unattended around an open flame
Again, pets are curious and may try to investigate your unattended candles or fireplace. The best fire prevention practice is to invest in flameless candles or an enclosed fireplace. This will help to prevent a fire from an accidental knock over from a candle or escaped ember to burn out of control. Be sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
Have an emergency plan and practice escape routes with your pet
Include your pet into your family emergency plan and practice taking them with you. It is a good idea to determine who will be responsible for grabbing your pets during an emergency. This will help to make your escape more efficient and reduce scrambling in an emergency.
Note where your pets like to nap or hide
It is important to know where your pets like to hide or nap in the event that you must evacuate your home quickly. Pets can be more difficult to round up if they sense stress—especially cats! Create ways for easy access to them in case of an emergency. It’s nice that your pet can have a hideaway if he or she wants to relax in, but in an emergency, you need to be able to locate and extract your pet as quickly as possible. Practice crating your pets in advance to make it a positive experience for them. This way they don’t go running away from you when you pull it out to crate them during any type of emergency.
Invest in a Pet Rescue Alert sticker/decals
Pet Rescue stickers/decals will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers (i.e., on/near a front window or on/near your front door). The sticker should include the types and number of pets in your home, as well as an emergency contact name and number. Providing this information can cut down on the time responders spend searching your home in the case of a fire. You can purchase Pet Rescue stickers online or at your local pet store. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers.
Consider installing monitored smoke detectors
Monitored smoke detectors are connected to emergency responders. If you live in a fire-prone area or are concerned about a fire potentially starting while you are away, monitored smoke detectors will notify firefighters immediately even if you are not at home.
Make an Emergency Supplies/Travel Kit
If you must evacuate your home in a crisis (i.e., forest fire, earthquake, tornado, etc.), plan for the worst-case scenario. You will want to pack enough supplies to last your pet several weeks in case you may not be allowed to return home until then. Be sure to have the following items/things completed as soon as possible:
Note: Not all shelters accept pets. Having a predetermined plan on where you will be taking your pet in the event of an emergency will save you a lot of time and help avoid any undue stress.
If you can, attempt to grab your pet and exit the home as quickly as possible. If your efforts to locate or secure them takes too long, then leave. You should never delay escape or endanger yourself or your family. Once responders get there, immediately inform them your pet is still inside, so they can go enter your home and continue looking for your pet.
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