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December 9, 2019

Keeping Pets Safe from Fires

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The fires in the US have been devastating this year, especially in the western states. As of September 15, 2015, 8.8 million acres of land have burned, leaving many pets and their families displaced, or worse.

Your region may not be experiencing wildfires, but house fires can pose a danger anywhere, and our animals are often the victims. A scary statistic is that 40,000 pets die each year in house fires!

Animals have been known to cause fires. About 1,000 fires are started by pets annually.

So how can we prevent this tragedy in our own homes?

Limit the risks for house fires

Outdoor water bowls

Did you know that glass drinking bowls on wooden decks can be a fire hazard? Using Pyrex or Corningwear-type bowls may seem like a good idea since they are heavy, and it's easy to see if the water is looking fresh and clean. 

You may remember doing science experiments using a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun's rays enough to burn objects. This same principle can actually create a fire on your deck! 

Be sure to use ceramic, metal or heavy-duty plastic dog water bowls outdoors to prevent this from happening. 

Pet-proof your home

Just as if you had a human toddler around, you need to get down on your dog's level and see if there is anything that they can get into that could cause a fire. This includes exposed or loose wires.

Check to see that there is no evidence of damage on electrical cords (pet inflicted or otherwise). Chewed cords should be reinforced with electrical tape and then sprayed with a pet-safe deterrent such as bitter apple. 

Kitchen ranges and pets are a bad combination

Your stove or oven can pose a real danger to your pet and your home. The majority of fires that are caused by pets involve this kitchen appliance. 

There have been cases of dogs trying to reach food sitting on the stove and inadvertently hitting the igniter. Many dogs have died and homes destroyed in this scenario.

The remedy for this is to either remove the knobs or get a safety cover. These can be found in baby-proofing sections of stores.

Don't store food on your stove that may entice hungry pets and cause a problem. Teach cats to stay off the countertops and stove. 

Take care during the holidays

Pets in Halloween costumes paired with lit jack-o-lanterns can be a dangerous combination. Supervise clothed pets and use flameless candles to light up your Halloween decor.

Christmas trees can also pose a danger. Cats may climb up trees that are overloaded with electrical cords and cause them to topple. Dogs may chew on the cords. Don't leave your holiday lights on when you aren't at home and supervise your pets near decor. 

Completely extinguish fires

Whether it's an ashtray, a wood fireplace or a fire pit, always make sure there are no live embers that a wagging tail might spread. 

Make sure fire safety equipment is in working order

Do you have fire extinguishers? Keep them in places where fires are most likely to occur such as the kitchen and the garage.

Did you know they need to be refreshed? I know mine hasn't been looked at in years. 

My smoke detectors are in serious need of replacement. After 20 years, they have been chirping erratically even when the batteries are replaced. 

Consider getting rate-of-rise detectors in kitchens. These will go off with rapid rises in temperature rather than with smoke or steam.

Be prepared for an emergency

In the event of an fire or other emergency, you'll want to have a premade evacuation kit. It should include:

1. Food and fresh water
2. A leash and collar (with an ID tag)
3. Bowl(s) for food and water
4. Photos of your pet and of you and your pet together
5. Medications and supplements your dog needs
6. Immunization/veterinary records
7. A pet carrier large enough for your dog or cat can stand up and turn around in
8. First aid supplies
9. Emergency contact lists (may include friends, family members, vets, pet-friendly hotels and kennels, the Red Cross, etc.)

It's also wise to include comfort items such as a favorite type of toy and blanket. Anti-anxiety pet products can also be helpful. 

Make Sure Your Pet Has ID

Your pet should have current identification at all times. If you and your pet were ever to get separated, identification traces ownership back to you, and you are more likely to be reunited. Make sure the ID tag your pet wears is updated with your current contact information.

Veterinarians also recommend microchipping your pet. In an emergency, pets may become scared and run away. Even if your pet is stolen or loses its collar and tag, a microchip will increase your odds of being reunited with your cat or dog.

What's the plan?

If your area is affected by a wildfire, you may be evacuating the area along with your neighbors. Many Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, but it is still a good idea to prepare an alternate pet plan in the event that you have to evacuate. Some rescue services will not be able to accommodate animals. If you have some advanced warning of looming danger, make sure your pets and their crates are easy to access in case you and your family need to get out quickly. 

1. Pick a safe place. Know ahead of time where you, your family, and your pet can escape to or stay at in should you have to leave your home. Where are the pet-friendly hotels? What about kennels or boarding facilities? Where are the nearest Red Cross shelters?

2. Pick a caregiver. There may be a situation that requires you to leave, but you cannot bring your pet along. Do not abandon your pet! Instead, choose a designated caregiver that you trust. This could be a neighbor, friend, or family member.

Fires are scary, but you can be sure that your pets are safe if you take certain precautions. 

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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