The winter holidays are coming up and lots of people light fires or candles and turn on those space heaters to set the mood and stay warm. It’s a great time to go over some pet fire safety tips that can prevent fires in the home and keep your cat safe should a fire break out. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says pets are responsible for over 1,000 house fires every year in the United States, and an estimated 40,000 pets die in fires, mostly from smoke inhalation. Being prepared and following pet fire safety tips could save your cat’s life, as well as your own.
How Do Pets Start Fires?
Fires started by pets are almost always due to owners mistakenly leaving their animals in dangerous situations. You may have heard similar stories to the one in the video above where a cat was able to knock over a candle with an open flame and start an apartment on fire. Luckily, no one was hurt and firefighters were able to put out the blaze. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and it’s just one example of the kinds of danger cat owners can unwittingly put their pets and themselves in.
Prevent Pets From Causing Accidental House Fires
Take the following steps to protect your home and your cat from accidental fires:
- Use flameless candles that have a light bulb instead of a wick. If you prefer real candles, never leave pets unattended near an open flame, whether it’s a candle, fireplace, stove, or any other fire they can reach or accidentally knock over. Cats are known to be curious and knock things over, so be careful.
- If your cat jumps to counter height, remove stove knobs when you leave the kitchen, or you can find knob covers that will keep them from turning on the stove accidentally. The NFPA says a stove or cooktop is the number one cause of fires started by pets.
- Electrical cords can be seen by cats as toys to chew or bat around. When they are damaged, they can spark and cause electrocution or fires. Secure cords and hide them behind furniture or other obstructions. You may wish to unplug them if you leave cords unattended or spray them with something bitter as a deterrent. Further aversion training may be needed if your cat still tries to chew or claw cords.
- Don’t leave cats on electric blankets unattended. Cats can chew these or knead them with their claws, exposing wires, which can cause electrocution or heat up and catch the blanket on fire. Replace old electric blankets that show wear and tear.
- Use stainless steel or ceramic pet water dishes on wooden decks. Filtered and heated through glass and water, the sun’s rays can ignite the wood beneath the bowl.
- Check your home for potential hazards such as loose wires, stove knobs, and piles of paper or trash.
Keep Your Cat Safe During A House Fire
Ways to keep cats safe during a fire:
- Keep your cat’s carrier near the door so first responders can use it if necessary to carry your cat to safety. Cats often wait at doors and run out when firefighters come in.
- Make sure your cat is microchipped or wearing an identification collar. This will help reunite you with your kitty as quickly as possible if they escape and get lost.
- Confine cats in areas near an entry door when you leave the house so firefighters can find them easily. Pets are more likely to suffer injury or die in fires when they are locked in carriers or rooms away from exits.
- If you live in a fire-prone area or are concerned about fires starting, consider installing monitored smoke detectors so firefighters can respond to a fire when you’re not home.
- Note where your pets nap or hide in case you must evacuate your home quickly.
- Have an emergency plan and practice escape routes with your cat. Include all family members in this plan. Make sure they know what to do.
- Make an emergency kit that you can grab on the go. Include medication and any immediate needs your cat might have for a few days.
- Keep phone numbers and addresses of animal hospitals handy. If your pet is injured, you should know where to take them for treatment.
- Keep window stickers that display the number and types of pets in your home, and keep them up-to-date. They remind firefighters to search for pets.
What other ways do you keep your cat safe from fires? What’s your emergency plan to get your cat to safety? Let us know in the comments below!