In case of a household fire, it is important for family members and housemates to have an organized and thoughtful plan around their emergency response and evacuation. That being said, it is also important to include your household pets in this planning process, as you’ll likely need to assist them in finding a safe and appropriate exit. More than 500,000 pets are affected by house fires every year, while nearly 1,000 of those fires are started by the pets themselves.
To help put your mind at ease, we’ve gathered the three basic phases to planning out a successful and pet-inclusive emergency response within the household: prevention, preparation, and evacuation.
There are many tiny things you can do around the house to help curtail your pet’s exposure to fires and fire hazards. For example, you can modify or monitor any areas of your house that may contain an open flame, as this is one of the most common means of a pet starting a fire. You should also secure any loose wires around the house and discourage any jumping or rough play in the kitchen, which can lead to accidents with both the oven and the stovetop.
Preparation involves your household’s actual response plan, meaning how you plan to react to a fire starting inside your house from beginning to end. This includes the route and method of evacuation, which should be practiced with both the humans and the pets of the household to avoid any confusion. What’s more, you can assign specific roles to each person, such as helping the kids or finding the pets, which can serve to minimize the amount of scrambling and miscommunication when the fire occurs.
When the time comes, all of your preparation will make for a much safer and less stressful evacuation. On the way out, be sure to grab your pet’s leash or carrier, as the outside of your house or apartment could be increasingly chaotic. If you are unable to quickly locate your pet, it is important to secure each member of your family first, then call for your pet from a safe distance. Once the firefighters arrive at the scene, you should inform them that you still have pets inside the house, being as specific as possible to avoid any uncertainty when they venture inside.
If you’re interested in more fire prevention tips, as well as outreach materials centered around preparation and evacuation, you can get a wealth of public information from the U.S. Fire Administration.