July 12, 2018

Fire Safety and Your Pets: Keeping Them Safe from the Unexpected

a calico cat

Emergencies can happen at any moment and can come in a myriad of ways. While we may never be able to fully prevent such events from happening, we can prepare ourselves and our pets for when they do. In light of National Pet Fire Safety Day coming up on July 15, we put together important tips concerning fire safety in your home. Use this list to ensure that you and your furry friends are prepared should a fire break out. 

  • Consider installing monitored smoke detectors. If you live in a fire-prone area or are concerned about a fire potentially starting, monitored smoke detectors are always a smart choice. Should a fire start, firefighters will be notified and can respond, even if you’re not home.
  • Note where your pets like to nap or hide. This is important in the event that you must evacuate your home quickly. Remember that pets can be exponentially more difficult to round up if they sense stress—especially cats! Practice crating your pets in advance to make it a positive experience so they don’t go running when you pull out their crate during any type of emergency. 
  • Have an emergency plan, and practice escape routes with your pet. Include all members of the family in this plan, and make sure they know what to do and where to go.
  • Keep the phone number and address of a local animal hospital handy. If your pet is injured, you’ll need to know where to take them for treatment quickly.
  • Pet-proof your home. Ensure there are no areas where pets can start fires accidentally (including stove knobs, loose wires, candles, fireplaces and other potential hazards). Never leave a pet unattended with a lit candle or fireplace. 
  • Get a rescue alert sticker. This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers (we recommend placing it on or near your front door), and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home, as well as the name and number of your veterinarian. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers. To get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home,  you can fill out the ASPCA’s online order form, or visit your local pet supply store.
  • If you evacuate, take your pets with you whenever possible. If you leave them behind, they may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:
    • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
    • Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
    • Identify hotels or motels that accept pets.
    • Ask friends and relatives in your area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
  • Prepare emergency supplies and traveling kits. If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:
    • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information at all times. Your pet’s ID tag should contain their name, your telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
    • The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted under the skin in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.
    • Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where the kit is, and that it is clearly labeled and easy to carry. You can see a full list of items to include in your evacuation pack, including food, water, medication and a photo of your pet in case you get separated here.
  • Keep the ASPCA on-hand at all times. The free ASPCA mobile app shows pet parents exactly what to do in case of an emergency situation. It also allows pet owners to store vital medical records and provides information on making lifesaving decisions during disasters. With a few swipes, you can:
    • Access critical advice on what to do with your pet before, during and after a major emergency—even if there’s no data connectivity.
    • Store and manage your pet’s critical health records.
    • Receive a personalized, missing-pet recovery kit, including step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances.
    • Build a lost-pet digital flyer that can be shared instantly on your social media channels.

While these tips can’t prevent crises from occurring, they can help you keep your pets safe should tragedy strike. Keep these tips top-of-mind, and remember that being prepared is always the best line of defense when it comes to your pets.