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JBSA News
NEWS | April 26, 2017

Keeps pets safe from causing, being victims of fire mishaps

By Richard Campos Fire Inspector/Life Safety Educator

Unconditional love is what our pets give us, along with coziness and companionship. Some of the strongest relationships in our lives is our association to them.

But pets can cause fires, so people need to be careful with pets in the home.

According to a new data inquiry by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, approximately 500,000 pets are affected yearly by home fires. In addition, almost 1,000 house fires each year are unintentionally set off by the homeowners’ pets. That’s why NFPA has initiated to spread awareness about how pets can start home fires but more importantly how to prevent them.

“Not many pet owners realize that their pet can actually be the cause of a devastating fire,” said American Kennel Club spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “Simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.”

Approximately 700 home fires per year have been started by pets and wild animals. Almost three-quarters of these fires were begun by cooking equipment, fireplaces or chimneys, lighting or candles.

Case in point, a couple in Oklahoma know that all too well. Their inquisitive dog Lucy was home alone and discovered a cake on the stove top. As Lucy tried to get a nibble, her paw inadvertently hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan.

Within minutes, the house was filled with smoke, activating the monitored smoke detector. Outcome, the house was saved and Lucy was rescued by firefighters that were called to the scene.

“Planning for unexpected emergencies like home fires and taking these precautions are an integral part of responsible pet ownership,” Peterson said.

Here are a few simple tips on how to prevent your cherished pet from starting a fire and also how to keep your pets safe.

 

Prevent your pet from starting fires

  • Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the NFPA, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment that involves in your pet starting a fire.
  • Invest in flameless candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
  • Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.
  • Keep pets near entrances when away from home – Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them. 

  • Secure young pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
  • Some pets are chewers – Watch pets to make sure they don’t chew through electrical cords. Have any problems checked by a professional.
  • Since pets left alone can’t escape a burning home – Consider using monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.
  • Affix a pet alert window cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to update the number of pets listed. Free window clings are available online from the ASPCA at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness or can be purchased at pet supply stores.

SMOKE ALARMS

  • Have working smoke alarms on every level of the home. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.

  • If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out.

  • NEVER go back inside for pets in a fire. Tell firefighters if your pet is trapped.

PETS AND WILDFIRES

  • Make sure pets are included in your family’s wildfire evacuation plan.

  • Build an evacuation kit for each pet in your household.

  • Ensure each kit is a size and weight that can be quickly and easily loaded into a vehicle when packing to evacuate.

For more information about pet fire safety, visit the National Fire Prevention Association website at http://www.nfpa.org/education or contact the Joint Base San Antonio fire prevention offices at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at 210-221-2727, JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-2921 or JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-6915.