A house fire can happen to anyone and the results are always devastating. My mother’s house burned down when she was a little girl and it still bothers her. It’s not the stuff, but the loved ones you may lose – as she did. While there is no way to plan for every possible scenario, and tragedies can occur even when we plan, the better prepared you are the better chance your family members (two- and four-legged) have of getting out safely. In honor of Pet Fire Safety Day (July 15), we put together the following tips to helping your pets survive a fire.
Start With A Plan
You need to have a plan of action in case a fire does start in your home. This includes evacuation routes. The Red Cross has guides to creating an evacuation plan here.
- Do these routes work for pets? If not, is there another way to get your pet to safety? Two story homes or high apartments can pose a big risk as your pet will not be able to go out the window and down a ladder with you. For small pets, keep a backpack carrier handy that would allow you to climb down the ladder with your cat or small dog. Otherwise, is there another way out that your pet could take?
- Keep extra leashes and collars handy, near exit routes.
- Keep a few fire extinguishers handy.
If you have to leave your pet behind…
- Close the door – the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says this slows down the spread of smoke and fire.
- Put a light up collar or tag on them so they are easier to find through the smoke.
- Have a sign all made and ready in each room to hang on the window, signally that is the room your pet is trapped in.
- Crack a window if possible to let smoke out.
- The NFPA also recommends a towel at the bottom of the door and/or duct tape to keep smoke out of room.
Make sure everyone in our house knows the plan and what to do with the pets in case of a fire.
Of course, the above is all contingent upon you being home when the fire starts. If you are not home, no one may even know you had a pet inside. Unless you let emergency teams coming to your house know you have animals inside with one of our Dog & Cat Safety Alert Rescue Window and Door Stickers.
This set comes with four window stickers, 2 wallet cards and a bonus dog poison fridge magnet. Plus, each purchase feeds 25 shelter dogs.
Something people do not think about is training your dog for emergencies. There are few common cues that may help you get your dog to safety during a fire:
- Emergency come – teach your dog a special word that, when used, means he needs come sprinting to you without delay. Important if you need to catch your dog so you can get him to safety.
- Emergency stop – teach your dog to stop and stay in place. This could help if your dog escaped the house but is trying to run away or if your dog is about step somewhere dangerous.
- The fire alarm – You can teach your dog to do something when he hears the fire alarm. If you have a dog door, maybe that means teaching them to leave the house and sit by a tree in the yard. Or maybe you teach him to find a person in the house when the alarm goes off. Whatever makes the most sense for your escape plan.
And don’t forget your cat! Cats can learn anything a dog can, so teaching your kitty these few cues may help save their life.
Above all, don’t forget that fire safety starts with prevention. The hope is that you will never have to use these tips, but you should know them in case you do.