An estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires, and nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets.Chris and Kay Wardlow of Oklahoma know that all too well. Their curious dog Lucy was home alone and spied a cake on the stove top. As Lucy tried to get a taste, her paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. Within minutes, the house was filled with smoke,triggering the Wardlow's ADT monitored smoke detector. Firefighters were called to the scene and Lucy was rescued.
Fire departments across the country are encouraged to utilize Pet Fire Safety Day on July 15 to spread pet fire safety messages in your community. The following tips can be used to help educate pet owners on how to prevent their beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as how to keep their pets safe.
Prevent your pet from starting fires
- Extinguish open flames: Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
- Remove stove knobs: Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house – a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.
- Invest in flameless candles: These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Pet proof the home: Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently, such as loose wires and other potential hazards.
Keep 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 collars and leashes at the ready, near doors and exits in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet.
- Consider using monitored smoke detection services: As an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms, smoke detectors connected to a monitoring center help save pets who can't escape when left home alone.
- Affix a pet alert window cling: Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated.
The NVFC has a listing of fire departments across the nation where pet owners can obtain a free pet alert window cling as part of National Pet Fire Safety Awareness. Visit www.nvfc.org/windowclings to find a location near you. The clings are also free online at www.adt.com/pets and will be available this September at your local AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Visit http://www.akc.org/clubs/rdod/ for more information on an event near you.
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