In recognition of Pet Fire Safety Day we discuss how to protect your pets (cats, dogs and any other furry creatures) from summer bushfires, and share our tips to help prevent accidental fires from starting in the home.
Pets and Bushfires
In Australia, bushfires are a real threat during the summer months – they often start and spread quickly and can have a devastating impact on communities and lives.
Relocating with your pets during a bushfire.
You probably already have a Bushfire Survival Plan in place if you live in a high risk area, but are your pets part of your plan? When preparing your family’s evacuation plan, it’s important that you plan and prepare for your pets’ safety as well as your own.
On high fire danger days, you should relocate your pets early – if you don’t have relatives or friends in a safer area who can take them, consider a boarding facility well away from the fire danger zone.
Make sure you have everything you need stored and ready to go, so that you can leave quickly in an emergency fire situation. This includes your dog’s collar and lead, cat carriers or boxes for smaller pets, as well as food and water, bowls and any medicines they might need. It’s also useful to have your vet’s contact details in your phone or their card in your wallet. Taking your pet’s own bedding and a favourite toy is not essential, although it may provide comfort to a pet who is already stressed by what’s going on around them.
It’s also a good idea to practice how you will relocate your pets and family if you need to. Which family member is responsible for doing what? Being prepared is vital to ensuring your family and pets’ safety in the event of a bushfire.
How to keep pets safe at home during bush fires.
If it’s appropriate to stay in your home during a bushfire, just remember that animals will get stressed very easily, so your aim will be to keep them as safe and calm as possible.
- Keep pets safe in a secure room, in a crate or carrier if appropriate, or on a lead.
- Ensure they have plenty of fresh water to drink, and that cats also have access to a litter tray.
- Make sure you have wet towels and woollen blankets to hand in case you need to cool down your pets or use these to cover and protect them in their carriers or crates.
Pets and Accidental Fires
One winter evening many years ago, Angel Onyx (1998 – 2014) almost started a fire in our home when he decided it was a good idea to demonstrate his athletic ability by leaping over the naked flame of a burning candle. He gave himself an awful fright and I still remember chasing him around the lounge with a wet towel, to stop his fur from smouldering. Onyx was lucky to escape with just a small patch of singed fur on his belly. The situation could have been so much worse – he could have burnt himself badly and he could have set the house alight. We both learnt a valuable lesson that night.
Here are our tips to help keep your home and family safe from accidental fires:
- Make sure your smoke alarms work and the batteries are fully charged. Mark Pet Fire Safety Day on your calendar and change the batteries every year on this day.
- Never leave open flames burning unattended – e.g. candles, lanterns. Pets are curious and often drawn to the light and flickering of the flame – there’s a very real risk of them knocking candles and lanterns over with disastrous consequences. Try flameless candles, which also have the added benefit of no wax spills to clear up.
- Cats and dogs can both be driven by food. How many times have you been cooking in the kitchen with pets under your feet or on their hind legs reaching up towards the kitchen counter? Pets knocking the knobs on stoves is a common cause of accidental house fires, so cover them when they’re not in use.
- Remain vigilant for anything around your home that might start a fire – for example piles of paper, loose wires etc.
Do you have any other pet fire safety tips to share? Please comment below…
Top image: Tori Behr via Flickr