By Sue Wilson Cordle, Red Cross Volunteer and Board Member
Recent natural disasters like last year’s hurricanes, ongoing wildfires and even the volcano eruptions in Hawaii have brought pet rescue national attention. In a search and rescue situation, human safety always comes first, and pets are often left behind. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking pictures in the news of pets stranded in a life-threatening situation, making many of us realize that if we have pets, we need to make a plan to keep our pets, as well as our people-safe.
Far more common than a natural disaster, is a home fire. In fact, home fires are the most common disasters the Red Cross responds to, and the most preventable. I remember when I was in grade school, we had “Fire Safety Week” and the Fire Marshal from a local fire department came in and talked to all of us about an escape plan for our homes. We were reminded to go home and talk to our parents and perform at-home fire drills, similar to the ones we did in school, and to find a meeting spot in the yard to make sure everyone got out. I don’t recall dogs, cats or any kind of pets being in the escape planning, but they should be!
Sunday July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and the Red Cross has several suggestions to keep your family and pets safe in the event of a home fire. Most importantly, is prevention.
Every year, pets are the cause of many preventable home fires. Curious pets can easily knock over lit candles, investigate what’s cooking on the stove, or even get into trouble if they get too close to a fire in the fireplace. Here are a few tips to keep pets safe around the house:
- Ensure your pet is never left unattended around an open flame
- Remove or protect stove knobs so they can’t accidentally jump up and turn on the stove
- Invest in flame-less candles. Cats are known for batting at and knocking down lit candles
- Secure especially active and young pets either in a crate or behind a gate in an easily accessible area
In the event of a fire, help firefighters find your pets easily.
- Keep pets near an entrance while you are away from home
- Invest in pet alert window clings to let firefighters know you have pets and how many
- Keep collars on your pet so they can be leashed to escort out (cats and dog hide in fear and are sometimes difficult to capture)