Fires can happen at anytime – whether you are home or not. Meanwhile, our pets are often left at home even when we are not – they’re just not allowed in most workplaces, schools, restaurants, or stores. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes our pets might be home alone when a fire occurs.
Every family with pets has a responsibility to make emergency plans that include their pets. You should make plans for both when you are home and when you are not home. Don’t just think about house fires, think of other emergencies as well. We live in a wildland-urban interface (WUI), where communities meet the forest, so we are more at risk for wildfires. Make a plan for your animals during larger scale emergencies like wildfires!
Here’s some steps you can take to keep your animals safe in case of a house fire:
- Remember pets in your prevention efforts! The best way to keep your family, including your pets, safe is by stopping fires before they start!
- Remember pets in your preparation efforts! Like was already stated, you have a responsibility to develop emergency plans that include your pets! Find a neighbor or friend who can take your pet in either while we are on scene or longer term in the event of a fire. Assign a family member to each pet in case of an emergency and include your pets in your family home evacuation drills. Know where your pets like to hide so you can find them quickly on your way out of the house. Never stay behind to look for a pet.
- If you are unable to find a pet quickly, leave the home. Leave the door open behind and call their name from a location a safe distance from the home. Never go back in a burning building for a pet – alert firefighters as soon as they arrive on scene that there is a trapped animal.
- Keep your pets in areas near entrances when you’re away from home. If your pets are in areas close to the front door, side door, back door, etc. and do not have access to more remote rooms, like bedrooms, it will be easier for firefighters to find them during a fire.
- Train your animals to come to you when they are called!
- Keep your pets’ collars on! Many people remove their pets’ collars at home but in an emergency, it is much easier to grab a pet with a collar on – whether it’s you doing the grabbing or us! Also make sure to keep your leashes and carriers in an accessible location! This will help both you and us in the event of a fire! Fires are scary for animals – having a way to secure them safely will help keep them safe once they have escaped the home!
- Replace collars, leashes, and carriers when they become worn or broken.
- Keep tag and microchip information up to date in case animals get out on their own in the chaos of a fire.
- Use a pets alert window cling. Write down the number and type of pets that are inside. This will alert firefighters that there are animals trapped inside and what to be on the look out for. It is VERY important to keep window clings updated! And not to leave them up if your pets are not home!
- If you can afford it, think about a monitored smoke detector system. If you’re not home and the smoke alarms go off, the fire department will still be contacted by the monitoring center. The earlier we are alerted, the earlier we arrive on scene – which, while never a guarantee, the more likely we will be able to save your pets.
Our pets are more than just animals, they’re family! Make sure they protected like family and include them in your prevention and preparation efforts!