By Dean Vickers, Director of Animal Welfare Studies and Education at PetSafe
In a 2010 report from the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires. What is even more surprising is that and estimated 1,000 house fires each year are started by the homeowners’ pets. I guess you will think twice about not giving Fido that extra treat now.
It is difficult for many of us to believe that our pets can actually be the culprit when it comes to starting the fire. Fret not, fellow reader, simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and removing the stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged pyromaniac friends.
Pets, who enjoy the past time of counter surfing, can be the most likely candidates for turning on a gas stove. He gets on the counter, sees something tasty – or even licking the grease from around the burners, his paw slips and he accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner. Something that you don’t think about, but it really does happen.
Planning ahead is the best bet here. As the old adage goes; an ounce of prevention……
Use common sense
- Extinguish open flames –Pets are curious by nature. If you leave on a stove burner, a lit candle or even the fireplace burning, it can be too enticing for your pet to ignore. The dancing flames and the crackle of the embers may draw the attention of your pet with devastating consequences.
- Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.
- Invest in flameless candles – These candles utilize a light bulb instead of a flame. They are becoming more and more realistic and are an excellent way of avoiding an open flame while still having ambient lighting. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Change your pet’s water bowls to stainless steel or ceramic. Your traditional glass bowl could filter the sun’s beam and, depending on the temperatures, could ignite the wooden deck or grass beneath the bowl.
- Holiday decorations – With the holidays just around the corner, I want to reemphasize the importance of keeping your holiday decorations pet friendly. The candles in Jack-O-Lanterns, combined with the spider’s webbing, could spell trouble. The same is true with holiday candles and tree lights. Your pets could knock them over or even chew on the strings of lights.
Keep your pets safe when you are away
- Keep pets close to entrances when away from home – The key is that you want them to be readily retrieved by a fire fighter or a helpful neighbor in case there is an emergency. Keep the leashes and collars close by as well. You want them to be removed as quickly as possible if the need arises.
- Consider upgrading to a home monitoring system – Pets can be trapped inside the burning home. You should already have smoke detectors in your home, but you want to upgrade to a home monitoring service or at least a smoke de4ctot monitoring service. If you travel a lot, it can be an incredible relief knowing that someone is there to watch your pets when you cannot be there.
- Pet notification clings – Write down the number of pets you have in your house and affix the cling in a prominent location. I would recommend at least two of these. They are inexpensive and tell the fire fighter how many pets to look for. Make certain that you keep it up to date.
- Crate young pets – Keeping young puppies confined away from potential fire hazards is a good idea. J’Maul, my Ridgeback mix, wasn’t a firebug; he was very much the opposite. He loved to chew through the water line to the toilet. After the third flooding, I learned my lesson.
Just a few simple changes can add to the sense of relief you will feel having fire proofed your home. Now, kick back, scratch your pet’s ears and enjoy the changing seasons.
As Director of Animal Welfare Studies and Education, Dean provides education on the proper use and benefits of PetSafe products to legislators and pet owners worldwide. Spending most of his career in advocacy, the former Ohio State Director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has assisted with animal abuse and neglect cases, as well as assisted with rescue during natural disasters, animal hoarding, and large scale animal abuse cases. He is a graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in History and Political science. He currently lives in Knoxville with his 3 rescue dogs, Annikka, J’Maul and Isabella.