National Pet Fire Safety Day was established in order to raise general public awareness regarding both the effects that house fires can have on pets, as well as how pets can accidentally start house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, roughly half a million pets are affected by house fires every year, and nearly one thousand of these house fires are actually started accidentally by pets. AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson points out that while many individuals can readily understand how a house fire can affect their pet, very few recognize that their pet can actually cause a devastating fire. One couple found this out for themselves when their curious dog attempted to remove a cake from the stove top and accidentally hit a knob that turned on the gas burner under the cake pan. Within minutes, the house had filled with smoke, which triggered their ADT monitored smoke detector. Firefighters arrived on the scene quickly enough to rescue the dog and save the house. While that particular story has a better ending than some others, it’s a clear example of how a pet could, quite easily, accidentally start a house fire.
Tips for Keeping Your Pet and Family Safe
As is the case with many other problems, house fires can be prevented. If pet owners know what steps to take, they can ensure that their furry friends don’t accidentally start a house fire, either when home alone or even when the family is at home with them. Following are some simple tips for how to keep your pet and your family safe from potential house fires:
● Never leave any open flames unattended. All pets can be incredibly curious, and so will likely investigate cooking appliances, candles and even fireplaces. Cats are particularly prone to knocking lit candles over with their tails after approaching them to investigate. It is important to be nearby to stop them from getting too close, and to extinguish all open flames prior to leaving the house.
● Remove or protect the knobs on your stove. The National Fire Protection Association indicates that the stove top or cook top is the number one piece of equipment in a house that is most often involved in accidental pet-started fires. By removing or protecting the knobs, you eliminate this risk.
● Do not leave glass bowls outside on a wooden deck. As a magnifying glass can magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire, so can a glass pet bowl that is filled with water. It is far better to use stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead, especially on wooden decks.
● Keep your pet’s collar on even when they are in the home. In the case of a house fire, pets with collars on can be more easily rescued from the home.
● Keep your pets somehow contained near the entrance of the home when you leave. You may desire to put up pet gates to block them from accessing deeper areas of the house, or you may simply close all bedroom and bathroom doors so they have to remain in the main living areas. Either way, this will make it easier for pets to be rescued if necessary.
● Secure young pets completely when you leave. Puppies and young kittens are especially curious, and so should be secured in crates or behind pet gates when you leave the house.
● Consider using monitored smoke detectors. If an un-monitored smoke detector goes off while you are away from home, your pet is still helpless to do anything about the situation. Monitored smoke detectors will allow for the monitoring center to dispatch emergency responders even when you are not home.
● Place Pet Alert window clings on your front and back windows/doors. This can help rescuers to know exactly what they need to look for when attempting to rescue pets from your home.
Ideally, we would never have to deal with any sort of house fire, and most of the time we work very hard to prevent them from occurring. By knowing exactly what actions to take in order to help keep your pet and family safe can mean the difference, whether a house fire ever does occur or not.