Pet Fire Safety

10 Prevention Tips to Keep Pets from Starting Home Fires

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In 2015, a black lab almost burned down his owners house. The reason…an attempt to steal some pizza from the top of the oven! Standing up, his paws accidentally brushed against the knobs and turned on the burners, thus setting the greasy pizza box on fire.

Of course you would never think of Rover or Fluffy as an arsonist…yet, the National Fire Protection Association has confirmed that out of the roughly 500,000 pets that are effected by house fires each year; 40,000 pets die each year in a house fire; and approximately 1,000 of the house fires are caused by the pets. It could be something as simple as a knocking over a candle (as this cat did in Suitland) to a little rough playing by your dog (as was the case with this counter-surfing dog).

Our pets do not mean to do any harm (they are there to love us after all!), but due to their curiosity nature, unfortunate accidents can and do often happen. We as pet owners should learn how to help minimize these accidents from happening. To help us out, the American Kennel Club in association with ADT Security Services declared July 15 National Pet Fire Safety Day in 2009. Unless your pets are smart (and talented enough) to know how to dial 911 (which mine sure isn’t!), here are 10 Fire Safety Tips you can do to help reduce the risk of a house fire, respond effectively in an emergency, and keep your pets out of harm’s way.

1. Don’t leave an open flame unattended.
Pets are naturally curious, but are unable to understand the risks posed by fire. A toppled candle or spilled grease can quickly become a tragic inferno.

2. Secure stove knobs.
Some curious pets are particularly adept when it comes to turning knobs. If your pets can turn a doorknob, they can probably turn a stove knob. Stow the stove knobs in a drawer when not in use or purchase knob safety covers.

3. Avoid candles.
If you have pets (especially cats), a lit candle can be an irresistible temptation. If you still want the ambience of candlelight, try an electronic alternative. It may be less romantic, but it’s safer.

4. Secure your fireplace.
A fireplace can be a cozy gathering spot for family and pets, but a stray spark can quickly ignite nearby a rug or dog bed. Avoid placing fabric items near a fireplace that’s in use, and consider a glass fireplace guard to keep embers in their place.

5. Secure electrical cords.
Pets can easily mistake a tangle of electrical wires for a chew toy. Check online for creative ways to bind cords together and secure them out of sight.

6. Avoid placing glass water bowls on wood decks.
Here’s one you may not have considered—a glass water bowl left in the sun can act as a magnifying glass and focus the sun’s rays into a hot beam. On a wood deck not properly treated with flame-retardants, that heat could start a fire. Consider using a plastic or metal bowl instead.

7. Keep leashes ad collars near the door.
If you need to leave your home in an emergency, keep your pet gear handy and close to a safe exit. If your pets are not microchipped, be sure they have identification on their collars in case they become lost during a home evacuation.

8. Pet-proof a room for young pets.
Energetic young pets are far more likely to get into mischief than are their more cautious and sedate elders. If you’re planning to leave them alone in the house for more than a few minutes, you may want to consider a crate or pet-proofed room to keep them out of trouble. For longer trips, consider boarding your pets at a reputable kennel.

9. Have a fire evacuation plan in place.
It’s always a good idea to have a fire evacuation plan and to practice getting your pets out of harm’s way. Assigning a family member responsibility for each pet can help avoid confusion in an emergency.

10. Use fire alert window decals.
These FREE handy, easy-to-apply window stickers from ASPCA let first responders know how many pets are in the home and where they may be located. This is a huge help to fire personnel when trying to locate and rescue a frightened or unconscious pet.

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Infographic: Pet Fire Safety Tips