Fire Prevention / Disaster Preparedness
Each year more than 500,000 pets are affected by house fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, pets cause more than 1,000 house fires every year, so aside from knowing how to keep your pets safe if a fire starts, it's essential to pet-proof your home against potential fire hazards. Pets accidentally start fires more often than you might think.
Extinguish open flames: Don't leave pets unattended around any open flame – candles, cooking appliances, your fireplace, etc. And, of course, be sure to thoroughly extinguish open flames if you're leaving your home.
Remove stove knobs: A stove or cooktop is the most common piece of equipment involved when pets start fires. Removing the knobs (or protecting them with child- and pet-proof covers) when you leave home is the simplest way to protect against this.
Choose flameless candles: Candles are another common trigger of pet-caused fires, especially if you have cats (who can easily knock over a candle with their tail). A flameless candle gives you the ambience you're after without an actual flame.
Avoid using glass water bowls on a wooden deck: If it's hot outside, the sun's rays can heat up the bowl enough to actually ignite a wooden deck. A stainless steel or ceramic bowl for your pet's drinking water won't cause this problem.
Pet proof your home: Other potential fire hazards include electrical wires and power cords, which should be secured out of your pet's reach
When leaving your pets home alone it's a good idea to secure them in rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
You can do this using your dog's crate or with the use of gates to close off a certain room.
This will be more challenging with cats, but if your home allows you to close off a front room or section of the house to contain your cats while you're away, it will be easier for firefighters to locate them in an emergency.
Affix a pet alert window decal to a front window, in an easy-to-spot location. This decal includes the number of pets in your home so rescuers know who to look for when they enter your home.
Include Pets in Fire Escape Plan
If fire is spreading rapidly through your home, you could have as little as two minutes to get out safely. This is where your previous fire safety drills will be life-saving, as you won't have to think about what to do in the middle of a crisis, you'll already have your plan in place.
Start by identifying two ways out of each room (such as a window and a door), and establish a meeting location outside where all family members should gather. The best way to protect your pets in the event you have to evacuate is to bring them with you.
Keep a collar on your dog, and leashes and cat carriers in an easy-to-access spot near an exit point so you can grab them on your way out.
Pets will probably panic at the smell of smoke and sight of fire, so secure dogs on a leash and put your cat in a carrier if at all possible. Otherwise they may bolt once you get outdoors.
Having a few "kennel slip leads" (those thin nylon leashes with a metal ring on the end that you double back through the nylon rope to create an easy-on, easy off collar and leash, in one) are invaluable in emergency situations. Hang them by the front door.
You probably already know your pet's favorite hiding spots, but if you don't, make it
a point to locate them now. If a fire starts, your pet will likely make a bee-line for her 'safe' spot as soon as she hears the alarm, so check there first.
If you have birds or other caged animals, decide ahead of time who will be in charge of taking them to your outdoor meeting spot – assuming you can safely do so, of course.
It might not always be possible for you to find or reach your pet before you evacuate. In this case, leave an outside door open and call your pet's name. Hopefully he will hear your voice and make his way out to you. Be persistent and loud … and don't give up. It may take time for your pet to work up the courage to come to your voice.
Before A Disaster Happens
• Find places that can accommodate pets if you evacuate; consider pet-friendly hotels, kennels and/or loved ones. For resources visit www.cpicaz.org.
• Write down locations and store them with your disaster kit.
• Practice loading your pets into carriers and your vehicle.
• Microchip your pets. It is the single best way to reunite lost pets and families. Keep microchip registration updated when you move, change phone numbers or get a new emergency contact.
• Secure a sturdy, legible ID tag on your pets’ collars in case they run away.
• Assemble a kit for each animal in your household.
• Keep the kit near an exit so it is easy to grab in case of an emergency.
• Photos can prove ownership if you are separated from your pets - storing photos on your cell phone can also be useful.
During A Fire
• Attempt to grab your pet and exit the home as quickly as possible, but if it takes too long to locate or secure them, 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 to enter your home and continue looking for your pet.
• Grab leashes and carriers on your way out – Outside will be chaotic and that may cause your pet to try to escape to a calm, safe area.
• Never go back inside a burning house. If you can’t find your pet, leave, open the door, and call them repeatedly from a safe distance away. Let firefighters take over the task of locating your pet.
KEEPING YOUR PETS SAFE
• Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away From Home – When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
• Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
Keep in mind boarding facilities require proof of vaccinations prior to entering the facility.