Pets and House FiresJuly 14, 2016
Just like our human families, pets are susceptible to the dangers of house fires including burns, smoke inhalation, and asphyxiation (oxygen deprivation.) Did you also know that some house fires are actually started by pets (accidentally, of course!)
Many of the general measures to prevent house fires will prevent pets from inadvertently starting a fire.
Candles, Fireplaces, & Stovetops
Don’t allow a pet to be unattended in the presence of an open flame – this includes fireplaces, candles, and stovetops.
If a candle is lit in my house, my super-cute but super-clumsy dog will happily knock it over. Cats also pose the risk of swishing their tails by and catching aflame or tipping it as they walk over the counter. You can’t assume that your pet will avoid the heat of a fireplace, fire pit, or other flame.
Use child-proof knobs or remove stove knobs to avoid an eager and hungry pet from climbing onto the stove-top in search of a tasty snack and clicking on the stove.
Ashtrays & Space Heaters
Be very careful with smoldering ashtrays that a well-meaning pet might knock over. And don’t forget about space heaters – what may be a very safe device when operated appropriately is dangerous if knocked over.
Power Cords & Cables
Puppies and kittens may present a bigger challenge – they like to chew on everything, including power cords and wiring. While this can be an immediate danger to them (electrocution) they can also damage cables just enough to trigger a fire. Keep those cables away from your puppy or kitten (or even your adult dog or cat if they are chewers) and check them regularly for tiny tooth marks.
Planning and Safety
If a fire should occur, protect your home and your pets:
- Smoke detectors: make sure you check and replace the batteries regularly.
- “Pet Inside” alert stickers: get window stickers (some fire departments even provide these to you) to indicate how many pets you have to any rescuers & firefighters in case of an emergency.
- Newer fire safety devices: nowadays, there are so many connected devices including WiFi home monitoring systems that will send any smoke alerts to your smartphone and to local fire departments when you’re not there.
- Collars & Carriers Accessibility: lots of pets run around “naked” (without collars) in the house, but do consider that this makes it harder for firefighters to control pets. Consider keeping a collar on your pet, or at least hanging visibly near entrances to the home. For cats, having a carrier easily accessible rather than tucked into some basement is helpful.
- Hiding Spots: knowing where your pets like to hide when they’re scared can also be helpful for firefighters.
For any pet present during a house fire, please bring them to be evaluated immediately. Injuries can be nonexistent, mild, or very serious, but early treatment with oxygen and other emergency measures can make the difference.
Pet Fire Survivor Stories: Precious the Hero Dog & the cats who lived
Check out the story of Precious, a true hero dog. This 3-year old deaf Border Collie in Barnstead, NH saved her entire family from their burning home. Our Port City team treated and cared for Precious, who suffered severe injuries in the fire. Read more here.
Max and Smokey are a couple of lucky survivors. Sadly, their owners’ house caught fire and burned down. Firefighters were able to rescue and bring the cats to SAVES, and we treated them for smoke inhalation and gave them a temporary home while their owners were hospitalized and figuring things out.