All across the country, fire safety is an ongoing concern, especially in those places experiencing dry conditions where forest or wildfires might be increasingly common. Being aware of things like fire bans, camp fire safety, and other fire-related health issues is critical, not only where you and your family are concerned, but also in relation to your pets. Sadly, statistics show that nearly 500,000 pets are affected or injured by home fires every year, and there are at least 1,000 home fires accidentally started by pets on an annual basis. How can you keep this from happening to you and your pet?
As with many emergencies or disasters, a key step to take is simple being aware of the potential hazard. Pets obviously would never intentionally start a fire, but if the environment they are in is unsafe, the chances are higher that they might instigate one before anyone realizes what is going on. The National Volunteer Fire Council has put together a number of helpful tips to prevent pets from starting fires and keeping them safe in the midst of one.
First, never leave open flames unattended around the house. This not only applies to candles or lanterns (which can be knocked over by a dog’s wagging tail), but also can mean not letting a gas stove go without someone watching over it at all times. If you leave your pets unattended at home and you own a gas stove, consider removing the stove knobs or covering them so they can’t accidentally be switched on by questing paws.
Second, do you have glass water or food bowls set out on a wooden deck or other wooden surface? Careful! While not common, the sun can be filtered through the glass like a lens and ignite the wood, causing a larger fire to erupt in the area. Swap out glass bowls for ceramic or stainless steel ones for a safer option.
To keep your pets safe from fires, you’ll want to ensure your smoke detectors are active and working properly, not only so you are alerted to fires but so emergency services can arrive at your property as swiftly as possible to deal with the situation.
Lastly, just like you would with the rest of your family, practice following fire escape routes with your pets. Keep collars and leashes in a readily accessible place. This way, if you do need to evacuate a property, you can get everyone to safety quickly, without any confusion or panic.
Have you ever had a pet start a fire or had to get them out of a situation where a fire had gotten out of control? How did you handle it? What would you do differently if it happened again?
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