You've probably never thought about your family pet becoming an arsonist, but it happens more than you might think. A cat in Maryland knocked a candle over onto a mattress and set her owner's house on fire. Fortunately, everyone (including the cat) got out alive and unharmed. A pooch in Washington pulled his bed up against a space heater, setting the whole place ablaze and sending himself and his owner to the hospital. And a Labrador Retriever in Connecticut turned a gas stove on, catching the pizza box that held his prize afire, too.
Since even the smartest of animals can't understand fire safety rules, it's up to their humans to make sure their environment is safe. Here are some actions that may save not only your pet's life in case of a fire but your own and your family's, too.
Stop Fires Before They Start
- Make sure there are no untended flames in your home. Use fire screens in front of fireplaces and snuff out any candles when you leave the room. Candles range high on the list of home fires.
- Secure electric wires so that they are covered or out of reach of pets and tiny humans. A dangling cord can invite mouths and little hands and start an electric fire before you know it.
- If you leave a bowl of water out on a wooden deck, use one of a material other than glass. Believe it or not, sun shining through glass and water can heat a spot of the wood and set it on fire.
- Put covers over stove knobs. Even if they're on top of the stove out of reach of kids, a jumping dog or cat can easily turn burners on. Unlit gas can cause an explosion and electric burners can get hot enough to set afire anything that lies on them.
Make "Be Prepared" Your Motto
- When you make an emergency plan for your family (and you should!), include plans for getting your pet out safely, too. Then practice your plan together.
- Keep a pet emergency supply bag in a readily accessible place. Include food, medicine, leash, carrier, and any records you need.
- Use smoke detectors and monitor them. Just because it beeps when you press the button doesn't mean that a 10-year-old monitor works properly. (The life of smoke detectors if 10 years.)
- Be sure you know your pet's favorite place to hide, and put a sticker on your door or window that lets emergency personnel know there is an animal inside your home.
In Case The Worst Happens
- If a fire starts, no matter how small, get out! Make sure everyone follows the plan and exit the building immediately.
- If you can't find your pet right away, go outside, leave the door open, and call for your pet.
- Let emergency responders search for your pet. They're trained to be inside burning buildings and are the best chance for getting your pet to safety.