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You've probably created an evacuation plan for your family in the event of a fire, but do you have an emergency plan for your four-legged family members? Pet fire safety, both indoor and outdoor, should be just as much of a priority. Not only do you need to prep your house to make it as fire-safe as possible, but you also need to learn about evacuating your animals safely and treating pet burns in case of an emergency.
Indoor Fire Concerns for Pets
Did you know that pets and wild animals start approximately 700 household fires in the U.S. every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association? About three-quarters of those take place around your home's cooking equipment, fireplaces, lighting fixtures or candles.There are many areas of your home that are a concern for your dog or cat's safety. Knowing what to look out for can help you prevent a fire and keep your pet safe.
The fireplace and the area around it can be dangerous. Because doors and screens can stay hot for hours after a fire, train your pet to keep their distance from the fireplace. Do the same for any hot radiators, outdoor chimney vents or areas where you store fireplace ash.
Cooking is also a dangerous time for animals to be in the kitchen. Sudden jumps from the floor onto the stove area may even ignite a fire. If your pets are extra curious in the kitchen, consider blocking off their entrance to the room completely. If that's not possible, at least consider removing the stove knobs when you leave your house and unplugging your toaster or slow cooker. Don't forget about the oven door. Never open the oven when your pet is in close proximity to ensure that they do not burn themselves on the hot oven door.
Finally, keep all candles out of your pets' reach (cat parents know how high that can be!). Better yet, switch to battery-operated flameless LED candles. These candles look similar to flammable candles, and some even emit a fragrance. However, if they're accidentally knocked over, they won't start a fire.
Outdoor Pet Fire Safety
Outside, a fire pit or a small bonfire can be a potential hazard for your pets. Dogs are curious creatures, and they may want to sniff a fire as a way of exploring. Train your dog to stay at least a few feet away from any fire. After you've finished enjoying your outdoor fire for the evening, be sure to extinguish it properly with water or dirt. This also means keeping your dog away from even wet ashes since he could get seriously burned from stepping on them.
Your pooch should also steer clear if you're cooking over your outdoor fire. Distract him with a toy or keep him inside where he won't be tempted to leap for a sizzling hot dog. If you have small children making s'mores, make sure that any long sticks with hot objects aren't waving near your pet's eyes or face.
It's also probably a good idea to leash your dog a safe distance away just in case any nightlight decides to participate in your outdoor party; this will keep your dog from trying to chase the night critter through the fire.
How to Evacuate Your Pets Safely
The easiest way to protect your pet in case of a fire or emergency is to affix a sticker to your front door alerting emergency personnel that you have animals in your home. These can be personalized to indicate how many pets there are in your home. You may even want to tape up a picture of your pet.
You also need a plan on how you'll evacuate your pet in case there is a fire in your home. If you have a plan for your family members, it should be easy enough to include your pet in your instructions. However, while you may know exactly where your children sleep at night, your cat or dog might not be as easy to find. Keep a harness and leash or a cat carrier in different areas of your home where you can quickly grab it. Also, make sure to keep a note of where you pet likes to spend his or her time throughout certain times of the day. This can be especially crucial for cats who like to hide away. Knowing where they are will make evacuating that much easier in the event of a fire.
And most importantly, the National Fire Protection Association urges you to stay outside if you've escaped from a fire but realize your pets are still indoors. Tell responding firefighters if you think your animals are trapped inside, and alert them to all of your pet's hiding places.
Treating Pet Burns
Do you know how to help a burned pet? While getting them to a vet to treat their burns should be your first priority, there are some steps you can take on the way to give your pet some relief. For dogs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests treating your pup immediately by immersing the burn in cool water or saline solution. Spraying cool water on the burn is just as helpful if it's impossible to immerse the area.
If you're unable to get to the emergency vet clinic right away, applying silver sulfadiazine ointment can help in the interim. This ointment is an important part of any canine first-aid kit. However, this should only be done in an emergency, and best to have a vet walk you through it. If done incorrectly, a vet may have to surgerically repair improperly treated areas. Cover your dog's injury with clean sterile dressings and take him to the vet as soon as possible. Some sites may suggest trimming the fur around the wound and cleaning it with saline solution, but this can sometimes do more harm than good because if you're not classically trained on how to properly address this sort of issue you may end making the situation worse.
Cat burn treatment is a little different. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University advises bringing your cat to the vet immediately, no matter how mild or severe her burn is. Do not put ice or water on a burn since the cold can shock her and cause her to start shivering. Finally, don't attempt to treat the burn with butter, ointment or a bandage since she could scratch or lick it off.
At your next vet visit, you might ask your veterinarian to provide you tips on how to handle your pet in this type of situation. Pet fire safety is a lot to consider and plan for, but it will help you to prepare for any emergency that comes your way. Staying alert can help keep your pet cool and safe.