Fire Safety for Pets
By Don Hanson, PCBC-A, BFRAP
< Updated 9DEC22 >
We have all heard news stories about tragic home fires where the pets did not survive. Sadly, incidents where the pet woke the family, and everyone was spared are the exception. Fire is scary for everyone involved but listed below are several facts that are especially important for those of us with pets.
· Approximately 80% of all fires occur in a private home; therefore, if your pet encounters a fire, they are most likely to do so in your home.
· We often leave pets alone in our homes, at least sometimes, and they typically cannot rescue themselves.
· Nearly 1000 fires a year are started by a family pet.
· Typically, you only have about 2 to 5 minutes to escape a house fire. That’s very little time to get yourself out, much less your pets.
· Home fires are the most common disaster the American Red Cross responds to and the most preventable. Unfortunately, they also typically require a family and pets to relocate for at least a few days.
Fire safety tips specific to all
· Install smoke and fire alarms in your home. Monitored alarms that automatically call the fire department offer the best protection, especially if your pet is left home alone. Test your alarms monthly and replace batteries and alarms per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
· Develop a family fire plan and have a practice drill at least twice a year. The plan should include two ways to exit every room, where you will meet once outside, how to call 9-1-1, how to Stop, Drop & Roll if on fire, and which adults will be responsible for the pets.
Fire safety tips specific to pets
o Cooking equipment, especially stoves. More than one dog has turned on a stove which caused a fire.
o Wood stoves and fireplaces. Fireplaces must have a metal or heat-tempered glass screen.
o Candles, lamps, and space heaters that could ignite a fire.
o Electrical cords, especially if your pet is a chewer.
· Use crates, baby gates, and pet-proof rooms to protect your pet from hazards when you are not home. It will also make it easier for first responders to rescue them if they are in a specific area.
· Acclimate your cat to its carrier to make it easier to rescue your cat.
· Post a red Pet Alert sticker on each entrance to your home. Minimally the sticker should indicate the number of dogs, cats, and other pets and include at least one emergency phone number in case you ate not home. Please remember to update this sticker any time the pet population in your home changes.
· Have a” go bag” ready for each pet containing; an extra leash and collar, vaccination records, medications, and contact information for local boarding facilities in case your pets need to be sheltered after the fire.
· Call 9 1 1
· All family members should evacuate the home, only attempting to gather the pets if safe to do so. Do NOT endanger yourself; wait for emergency responders to arrive.
· Never go back into a burning home, but leave the door open so your pet can escape.
Most of us never expect to be in a fire, but those that plan on what to do will have a better chance of survival,
Resources – Pet Fire Safety
American Humane – https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/pet-fire-safety/
National Fire Prevention Association – https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/PetSafetyTips.ashx