HOUSTON – Did you know an estimated 500,000 pets are affected by house fires every year? Though many think of their pets as part of the family, people often forget to consider their pets when planning for emergencies. July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a holiday during which the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services encourage pet owners to educate themselves on fire safety for their furry family members. Lieutenant Dennis Maldonado of the Community Volunteer Fire Department shares tips to help pet owners be better prepared in the event of an emergency.
“It’s very important to protect your own safety and your kids, but pets are just as important,” said Maldonado. “Many people, myself included, treat pets as part of the family so having a plan to be able to get the pets out in case of a fire is just as important.”
Tips to help you prepare for an emergency:
- Put a sign near the front door or window indicating how many pets are in the home
- Keep pets near entrances where they can be easily found; do not keep them in a room with no exit
- Find out where your pet likes to hide
- Keep a “go bag” ready with leashes, collars, food, meds, etc.
- Make your pets part of your emergency escape plan; practice with the whole family regularly
- Keep pet contact info (collars, chips, etc.) current in case they escape
While some think it’s safe to leave a pet home alone around certain hazards, Maldonado disagrees. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s not safe to leave around a small child, it’s not safe for a pet either.
“Dogs and cats and everything, they’re curious,” said Maldonado. “They see food on a kitchen stove, and they want to climb up and get that food.”