Fire Safety for Pets by Jacqueline Valencia

Dogs and cats can be very curious animals. They like to get into all sorts of things by digging into the yard, collecting your socks from the hamper, and some of them even learn how to open doors! Not every pet is one hundred percent well-behaved and even the most perfectly trained of specimens will find a way to get into trouble. This is why it is so important to have a safety plan for your pet, just as you would with all the members of your family.

 Just like humans, many pets can be startled in emergency situations. The sudden lights and sounds of fire alarms and the chaos of everyone trying to figure out what to do, can be a very scary thing for an animal.Your cat or dog will look to you for guidance and/or protection. Therefore, it is best advised to create a yearly fire drill plan for you and your pet. Practice getting pets into crates and getting out of the home as soon as possible. Now that might sound pretty straightforward, but pets can be unpredictable. Animals will tend to hide or lash out if faced with danger. If there is smoke and fire in the air, you won’t be able to get to your pet on time.  

A few suggestions from my own fire drills is to get each pet used to their crate or carrier using a command. Train them to love their crate using their preferred reward or treat system. Plus, animals should have their own spaces in homes anyways, and having a secure place for them to get away from it all is a bonus for them. Once you’ve gotten your pet happy with their crate or carrier, begin teaching them to calmly get inside and close the hatch. Keep a treat or their favourite toy inside to make them comfortable. When they learn to associate safety and comfort with their crate or carrier, take them outside the home in their container for a few minutes. This can be the start of your fire drill plan. Remember to stay calm and keep it pleasant with praise for your pet. This is probably the best plan for your cat, as cats will scratch, bite, or hide using their main defences if they feel unsafe.

For dogs, who are more trainable, using the same commands and treat/reward system helps a lot. Dogs like to feel like they are very much contributing to your everyday life and learning how to follow commands helps with this. It will save time in an emergency evacuation situation if your dog was to learn the commands to come (recall), stay, and follow you to wherever you are going. However, I find it best to quickly put on their harness or leash to get them out the door quickly and securely. Make sure all of your pet tags and collars are up to date with info on your pets in case they get lost. Get all pets microchipped and make sure you keep info on how many and what pets you have with a sticker on your door or window for emergency crews in case it is ever needed.

Fire prevention is also key to your fire safety plan at home with pets. Make sure to never leave any candles unattended, especially with your feline friends who enjoy tipping things over tables. Pet proof your home by keeping halogen and heat lamps away from your pets. Install proper coverings to fireplaces and burners. Keep fire alarms and carbon dioxide detectors with fresh batteries by replacing them every year.

1. Photo by Mofeda Dababo on Unsplash
2. Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash