Do You Know How to Protect Your Pets When the Worst Happens?

Snational_pet_fire_safety_daummertime means a drier than normal climate, which can result in some pretty nasty wildfires. Unfortunately, those can sometimes spread to neighborhoods and homes, which is bad news for you and your pet.

So in observance of National Pet Fire Safety Day, we’ve compiled this list of tips for protecting your family (and especially your pets) in case the worst happens, and for preventing fires from starting in your own home.

Here are six things you’ll want to know to keep your pet safe from fire:

1. Have a Plan

Preparation is the key to success in almost everything, and it’s certainly essential for keeping your pet safe. Make sure you establish a fire escape plan that includes your pets, so you’re prepared in case the worst really does happen.

If a fire starts in your home, you may only have a couple minutes to evacuate. Identify two exits (a door and a window, perhaps) to reduce the time it takes to escape, and keep extra leashes (preferably slip leads) and/or cat carriers near your exit points. Your pets will most likely get scared when they sense there’s a fire, so it’s important to keep them close, and to set a designated spot outside for your family to gather in case of fire.

2. Prevent What You Can

While wildfires are not always preventable, you can definitely take steps to prevent fires from happening in your own home — and you should! Pets can actually be the cause of a fire through no fault of their own — but if you make your home more pet-friendly and less fire-friendly, you can stop fires before they even happen.

It’s pretty easy, too. An open flame, like on a candle, can be fascinating to dogs and cats, or devastating if your pets decide to knock them over. Consider using flameless, electric candles instead, and definitely make sure not to leave your pet alone with an open flame. Same thing goes for stove knobs; you don’t want to leave your pets behind with those in place. When you leave the house, remove them so your pet doesn’t unintentionally turn on the burners.

Make sure you also have plenty of smoke detectors so you aren’t caught off-guard, and secure any electrical wires and power cords if you have cats to keep them from clawing them and incidentally igniting a spark.

3. Know Your Pets’ Favorite Hiding Spots

If you don’t already know your pets’ favorite hiding spots, now would be a good time to learn! If your dog or cat gets scared at the first sign of fire, you’ll want to know where to find them so you can get them out safely.

Pay attention next time your pets run and hide from the vacuum or a new visitor, and take note where they go. It will be much easier to evacuate if you know where to find your pets!

4. Train ’em up

Most domesticated animals can learn to do just about anything, so why not teach your pets how to protect themselves in case of fire?

First get your pet accustomed to the sound of your smoke alarm. There are a few ways to do this, but mainly you’ll want to convince them to associate the sound with something positive so they don’t stress out when it goes off. Then you’ll want to practice your escape plan: sound the alarm, have someone practice yelling out directions, then evacuate the building and meet at your designated spot. The better trained your pets are, the less stressed they will be in a real-life fire scenario.

5. Pet Alert!

If a fire occurs while you aren’t home, a lot of this stuff won’t be very helpful. It’s a good idea to let your neighbors know how many pets you have, and if you trust them you might consider giving them a spare key in case of emergency.

You might also want to put up a sign for the fire department or search and rescue workers to alert them of any furry or feathery companions you have inside. Hey, you can even purchase a set of two pet alert signs from our store!

6. Get a Kit

Lastly, you’ll definitely want to have a pet emergency kit available, and maybe keep it in your car or in an unattached shed or garage (if you have any of those). You’ll want to include food, water, a first-aid kit… Actually, we have an entire article about it — check it out!

What’s your pet-inclusive fire safety plan? We want to hear your unique ideas — let us know in the comments!

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Matthew M. Sullivan holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Grand Valley State University, with emphases in fiction and nonfiction. He lives smack-dab between some railroad tracks and Grand Rapids Michigan's third-busiest road, and spends his time studying film and literary fiction.