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​Fire Safety

Nearly fifty thousand pets die each year in fires in America, often from smoke asphyxiation.  Annually, an estimated one thousand fires are accidentally started by pets according to the National Fire Protection Association.  Both preventing household fires and planning how to keep our companion animals safe in the event of a fire are the responsibilities of pet parents.

Fire Prevention Tips for Households With Dogs 
  1. Avoid the use of space heaters.  If that is not possible, only use space heaters that automatically shut off if they are tipped over.  Keep a three-foot area around space heaters clear of flammable items.

  2. Keep electrical cords out of reach of dogs.  Affix electrical cords to baseboards, but do not run them under rugs or carpeting.

  3. When buying a new stove or range, select one with controls on the top surface.  If your existing stovetop has controls on the front, cover them with child safety stove knob protectors.  Fires can start when a curious dog jumps up against the stove to investigate the enticing aromas in cooking pots.

  4. Do not use glass dog water bowls on wooden decks.  It is possible for the sun’s rays, when passing through the water and glass, to ignite the wood.  Instead, select a stainless steel or ceramic outdoor watering bowl.

  5. Use flameless, electrical candles instead of traditional, lit candles.  Even if they are knocked over by your dog, electrical candles will not start a fire.

  6. Always use glass doors or a fireplace screen whenever your fireplace is lit.  Although your dog may be fascinated by the dancing flames or the warmth of the fire, you want to protect him from any stray sparks.  Have your chimney inspected annually by a certified chimney sweep, cleaned if necessary, and topped with a spark-arresting chimney cap.

  7. If you have a wood stove or outdoor BBQ grill, protect your dog from burns with a pet or child safety gate.

Protecting Your Dog in Case of Fire
  1. Have working smoke alarms outside sleeping areas and in each main living area of the home.  Replace the batteries twice a year.

  2. When you make a family fire escape plan, include your four-legged friend.  Remember that frightened animals may hide.  Know the places your dog likes to hang out, sleep, and hide.  Mark those spots on your fire escape plan and assign a person to check each one of them on their way out of the house or apartment.

  3. If you must evacuate without your dog, leave the door through which you exited open.  From a safe distance away from the house, call your pet’s name.

  4. Use pet fire safety window decals or clings to let firefighters know there are pets in your home.  Write the number of pets on them.  They are available in pet stores and online.

  5. When you must leave your dog alone at home, secure him in an area with an exterior door, if possible.  This makes it much more likely that firefighters can locate and rescue him in case of fire.

  6. Ask your local fire department if they have pet oxygen masks on each fire truck and ambulance.  While photos in the news of firefighters giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to animals warm our hearts, pet oxygen masks are much more effective.  If your local emergency vehicles are not stocked with them, consider donating them or working with local pet-friendly organizations to purchase them for your community’s fire engines and ambulances.

The bit of forethought required to arrange for a pet fire-safe environment and for a contingency plan for our dogs in the event of fire is well rewarded with the peace of mind created.  His physical safety is as much our responsibility as his health, food, shelter, and stimulation.

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