Over a million homes in the U.S. catch fire every year. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), around half a million pets are affected each year. Tragic though that may be, no one is to blame - accidents do happen.
Moreover, according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 1,000 of those fires are caused by a pet. Obviously our pets are not trying to set our houses on fire but these accidents do happen.
In November 2015, a fur baby in Washington tried to snuggle his bed a little too close to the space heater for warmth, igniting his bed then the home into a blaze and sending both the owner and the pet to the hospital. Cats can unintentionally cause fire around the house too and as pet parents, even though we want nothing more than safety for our fur babies and our human families, we sometimes unknowingly set the stage for such unfortunate events to happen.
On this Pet Fire Safety Day (July 15th), let’s take a look at a few of the common (maybe not so common for some) causes of fire and how to effectively prevent it.
It’s a bright and glowing point in a darkened room. Pets are attracted to candles like a moth to the flame. They can easily knock one over with a gentle nudge or a happy tail wag.
- Prevention - Keep it out of reach of your pets. Don’t leave candles unattended. Find candles and/or candle holders with a wide and sturdy base so they are not as easily knocked over. Electric candle may be a good alternative. Finally, always put out any open flames before leaving the house/room, or going to sleep.
Electric Cords and Blankets
Electric cords can be the ultimate chew toy, especially if you have puppies or kittens. Once damaged, they can short out, spark, and start a fire in the house. Not only are exposed electrical cords a fire hazard with pets in the household, they also present the danger of electrocution when being chewed on.
While electric blankets may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it come to causing house fires, the potential is every bit real for those who live in cold regions and enjoy their pets snuggling up to them under a cozy and warm blanket at night. If your pets start clawing or chewing on it, they can damage the wiring underneath, causing a short. Even if they just expose the wires, anything flammable nearby could start a blaze.
- Prevention - There are 3 main ways to prevent pets from chewing on electrical cords: 1) blocking access by raising them so they are out of reach, wind up excess cords and hide them behind furniture, or run them through the walls; 2) covering the cables with corrugated wire loom tubing, plastic spiral wrap, or even garden hose; otherwise, use PVC piping or metallic braided sleeving if you have pets who persistently chew or have sharp teeth; and 3) detering pets from chewing by spraying lemon juice, pepper mixed in water, or bitter apple spray (available at nearly all pet stores).
- Prevention - If the stove is within reach of your pet, take the knobs off when it’s not in use and especially when you are away from home. You might also consider using burner covers for raised burners or a non-flammable cover protector for glass or ceramic stove tops. To be safe, you could also simply block off the kitchen and make it off limits to your pets. Finally, getting rid of any food and crumbs from the stove top may take away the incentives for climbing up there in the first place.
Getting Out of A Fire Safely
Of course, even when you’re careful to keep your pets out of harm’s way, there are still plenty of other fire hazards in any house that no one could plan for. That’s why it’s important, in case there is a fire, to have an escape plan for you and your pet.
In a dangerous situation, your pet’s first instinct may be to hide, making it difficult for you to get them out. Know all of your pet’s favorite hiding places and be prepared to search them quickly. Keep all of their important supplies at the ready as well. Have a set place for their leash, food and water bowls, pet carrier, etc. so that you can grab them quickly on your way out, without having to search.
You can also buy a pet rescue decal for your window, to let firefighters know that you have furry friends inside with you and how many.
Pet oxygen mask often save our fur babies’ lives; yet not every fire department is equipped with one. With the help of programs like Project Breathe and Wag’N O2 Fur Life that are dedicated to raising money and donating pet oxygen masks, our brave firefighters and first responders have a better chance of saving our pets’ lives in case of a fire with every pet oxygen mask that is donated.
We give our gratitude for our firefighters and first responders for saving many lives and homes from fire damage and destruction every year. Let’s do our part to keep our fur babies safe and to prevent house fires as much as possible by educating ourselves on potential causes and being diligent about following best practices.