Maybe you’ve thought about what you’d do if there was ever a fire in your home — and how you’d American Ninja Warrior your way over furniture to make it out safely.
Does any part of your escape include your furry friends? The answer should be yes, and, as Pet Fire Safety Day approaches on July 15, your escape prep must include more than just practicing sprints.
The ASPCA advises that pet owners pet-proof their homes to prevent fires from starting in the first place, and establish a solid plan that will help you all get to safety fast — because there may only be minutes, or mere seconds, to grab your pet and go.
“The most important thing a pet owner can do is prepare in advance,” says Dick Green, senior director of ASPCA Disaster Response. “We can’t predict when a disaster will strike and families often have to evacuate at a moment’s notice under an immense amount of stress – that’s why it’s so critical to take the necessary steps ahead of time to keep pets safe and families together.”
From making sure your pet is properly tagged to checking your smoke detectors regularly, here are the best ways to prepare for an unexpected fire emergency.
1. Prevent fires before they start.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, pets and wild animals contribute to the start of approximately 700 home fires each year. It’s your job to make sure your pets are safe every day, in every corner of your home.
Pet-proofing ensures that there are no areas where dogs and cats can start fires accidentally. Has your pet learned to turn stove knobs? Remove them. Are there loose wires that a pet can chew or swat? Secure them. Keep pets away from candles, space heaters, fireplaces and other potential fire hazards.
2. Buy a pet-rescue alert sticker.
Stickers like these are easy to find — most online pet-product stores sell them — and they are a lifesaver in a fire because they tell rescue workers what pets live inside your home.
The ASPCA says you should make the sticker visible by placing it near or on your front door and it should include the types of animals inside as well as the name and number of your vet. To get a free emergency pet alert sticker, fill out the ASPCA’s online order form.
3. Smoke detectors save lives!
But only if they are working. In addition to checking your detectors regularly (the NFPA says you should check them once a month) if you live in a fire-prone area or are concerned about a fire potentially starting, the ASPCA suggests installing monitored smoke detectors so firefighters will be notified and can respond to a fire even if you’re not at home. Your pet will thank you for it.
4. Know where to find your furry BFF.
Under a bed. In a laundry basket. On top of the fridge. They are places only a pet would choose to hide out. A moment’s notice may be all you have in an emergency, so make sure you’re aware of all the places your cutie likes to crash because you may need to find them and evacuate quickly.
5. Practice routes of escape.
Make sure you’ve got an emergency plan — identify points of quick exit in your home — and do a dry run with your pet (minus the real-life panic and intensity). The ASPCA recommends including all members of the family in this plan and making sure they know what to do and where to go.
6. Have a safe haven in mind.
Speaking of going, if there is ever an emergency, where will you go? It’s always good to be prepared by speaking to a neighbor about shelter in the event of an emergency, or, in the case of natural disasters, asking your veterinarian for a list of preferred kennels and boarding facilities, or hotels that allow pets.
It’s also never a bad idea to have a emergency supply kit or travel kit all ready to go should you, or anyone in your family, ever need it — it should include things such as a first aid kit, leashes, and a flashlight. To read more about that, visit the ASPCA’s website.
7. Keep your leash and emergency kit near an exit.
Place items you might need in an emergency — such as your leash or cat carrier — where you can quickly and easily get to them. It’s simply not safe to rummage through closets or the like to find these items when a fire is spreading through your home.
The ASPCA says everyone should know where these items are kept and they should be clearly labeled and easy to carry. It goes without saying, though, that getting everybody out of the home during an emergency is priority No. 1.
8. Make sure your pet is easily identifiable.
If your pet bolts during a fire, how will he or she get back to you? If your dog or cat is wearing a collar and tags with up-to-date identification information — including their name, your name, your address and phone number — it’s a heck of a lot easier to locate you in the aftermath of an emergency.
If your pet has any urgent medical needs, include that information, too. The ASPCA also recommends the more permanent approach — microchipping your pet — so that your contact info is easily accessible if your pet ends up at a shelter.
9. Know your vet’s contact info.
Heroes in uniform save the lives of pets every day by helping them recover from smoke inhalation. In the event that your pet’s injuries are more severe, it’s smart to keep the phone number and address of a local animal hospital handy. Having help on speed dial could be a matter of life or death for your pet.
Download the ASPCA’s free mobile app for more resources, including pet medical records storage and advice on what to do with your animals before, during, and after a major storm. And extra helpful in case of emergency? You don’t have to have data connectivity to use it.
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Us Weekly articles and content are for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in Us Weekly articles and/or content is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, veterinary or professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you believe your pet may have a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.
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