Fire safety for pets

house fire with flames and smoke
House fire with flames and smoke

Have you ever sat around a campfire and marveled at the flames as they flicker and dance? There is something mesmerizing about a fire. It can be a source of heat, it can be a tool for cooking, but it can also be a hungry destroyer.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to experience a house fire. I can’t imagine the distress families experience as their memories and things are taken from them in one fell swoop.

Because fires are dangerous, precautions must be in place to escape safely.

Fire safety begins with having smoke alarms strategically placed throughout the home. Not only should they be installed but they should be checked periodically to ensure they are functioning properly.

Next, you should have an exit plan. Your exit plan should be rehearsed in the form of fire drills so that all members of the family will know how to respond in the event of an actual emergency.

Your main objective is to get out of the house safely.

But what if you have pets?

It isn’t easy to say this, but the truth is that human life is more important than animal life. That may come as a shock to many of you who follow me and it is a hard thing to even admit.

It is not an easy thing to put human life over the life of your pets especially when pets and humans develop strong bonds. Sometimes the human-animal bond is so strong that your beloved pets are perceived as members of your human family. I understand that and that’s what makes this so difficult.

However, if you take appropriate measures, it is possible for everyone — including your furbabies — to get out safely.

Leading causes of house fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause of house fires is cooking equipment with heating equipment coming in second1. The many ways a fire can start inside a home includes natural causes such as a lightning strike or other causes such as stoves, ovens, microwave ovens, candles, cigarettes, pipes, lighters used by youngsters, heating equipment, and electrical causes. In some cases, dogs can be accidental fire starters2.

Leading cause of death

The leading cause of death in a house fire is smoke inhalation.

An effective escape plan requires victims to stay low to the ground while they escape from the house. As the smoke rises, animals and people who remain upright are at greater risk of death from smoke inhalation.

Advantages of having a dog

It is not uncommon to read a story in the newspaper about a family that was rescued from a deadly fire situation because of a family dog. With a dog’s keen senses, it can recognize a change in the household environment and alert family members by barking3.

Getting out safely

In a house fire, your first priority is to get out safely. Evacuate the building as quickly as possible ensuring everyone gets out safely. If you are unable to get your dog out, notify the fire department as soon as they arrive so they can rescue your pet4.

In some cases, fire departments may be equipped with pet oxygen masks and will be able to help resuscitate a pet dog if necessary5.

How to keep your pet safe in the event of a fire when you’re not home

News reports revealed survivor dogs were found in pet carriers when they were rescued6, 7. A good recommendation is to keep your dog in a kennel near the entrance to facilitate its extraction by firefighters as they enter your home8. You might even consider placing a safety sticker in your window to alert first responders that you have pets inside9.

For more information on fire safety for your dog, please visit the following web sites:

National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
http://www.nvfc.org

Total Fire Services Limited
http://www.totalfireservicesltd.co.uk/total-fire-services-pet-and-fire-safety/

Footnotes:
1 National Fire Protection Association. (2016). Top causes of fire. Retrieved July 11, 2016 from http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/top-causes-of-fire
2 Total Fire Services Ltd. (2016, July 1). National pet fire safety day 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016 from http://www.totalfireservicesltd.co.uk/total-fire-services-pet-and-fire-safety/
3 (2016, May 2). BRIEF: Dog’s barking alerts Bridgton family to fire. Portland Press Herald (ME).
4 Total Fire Services Ltd. (2016, July 1). National pet fire safety day 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016 from http://www.totalfireservicesltd.co.uk/total-fire-services-pet-and-fire-safety/
5 Kravetz, A. (2016, May 11). Firefighters save dog from South Peoria house fire. Journal Star (Peoria, IL).
6 Green, J. (2016, June 24). House fire kills dog; second animal resuscitated. Hutchinson News, The (KS).
7 Kravetz, A. (2016, May 11). Firefighters save dog from South Peoria house fire. Journal Star (Peoria, IL).
8 Total Fire Services Ltd. (2016, July 1). National pet fire safety day 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016 from http://www.totalfireservicesltd.co.uk/total-fire-services-pet-and-fire-safety/
9 Total Fire Services Ltd. (2016, July 1). National pet fire safety day 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016 from http://www.totalfireservicesltd.co.uk/total-fire-services-pet-and-fire-safety/
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