Our pets are very important to us as man’s best friends and as family members too. We will do everything to keep them safe at all times. Emergencies can happen at any moment that we are not aware of and can happen countless times. We may never fully prevent such things from happening. However, we can prepare ourselves and also our pets.
The National Pet Fire Safety Day is on July 15th. Approximately 500,000 pets are affected by fires each year according to the American Fire Administration. In addition, about 40,000 pets die in fires due mostly from smoke inhalation. A fire could destroy your home at any time and we may not be aware. This could happen due to the misuse of space heaters during the winter or by a natural fire during the summer season. Most families in the U.S. have evacuation plans that also include their pets. Consider making a plan in case you haven’t created one yet. The first thing to do is to always check the batteries of your smoke alarms and make sure that they are still working. Then consider appointing each family member who would be responsible for each of your pets in case an emergency happens.
Protecting your pets in case of potential danger
According to the American Red Cross, home fires are the most common disaster in the U.S that they respond to and they could be the most preventable too.
The most common way to protect your pets from fire is to include them in your family plan. This means that you have to prepare their own safety or disaster supplies kit in case there is fire. You also need to prepare a safe area for them in case you need to leave your home.
Practice taking your pets with you when you already have your escape plan. Train them well to come to you when you call them so that they will immediately come to you in case there is fire.
The most important thing you can do for your pets in case of fire is to evacuate them immediately. They may become trapped or escaped and be more exposed to more life-threatening hazards. However, not all shelters accept pets so it is important to take note where you will bring your pets so ask help from your veterinarian and take note of boarding kennels and facilities. We also suggest asking your local animal shelter if they allow emergency shelter or foster care for pets. You have to do this in advance by local research. This is essential to know where to go and what to expect during a crisis so you need to have options. Also, knowing if there is also an animal shelter that offers emergency care during disasters is also important. Another suggestion is to also identify hotels or motels that allow pets.
Choose “designated caregivers”. This is a difficult decision and would take considerable time and thought. Consider someone who lives close by or near your residence when choosing a temporary caregiver. The caregiver you chose should be free during the day while you are away for work or has easy access to your home. A designated caregiver should be given a set of keys to your home and make sure that they can be really trusted. One example that you can ask for help are your neighbors who have pets of their own too and you may even take care of their pets too in return depending of course on who has accessibility. When choosing a permanent caregiver, you will need to triple sure that they can truly be entrusted with your pets. This is the time when something happens to you and you end up leaving your pets behind. Consider people who have met your pet and have successfully cared for pets in the past in selecting this foster parent. Have a heart to heart talk with them and discuss your expectations for your pets so they can deeply understand the heavy responsibility of caring for your lovely pets.
We also greatly suggest considering installing monitored smoke detectors. These are always a smart choice for areas that are fire-prone or if you are wary about a fire possibly starting. With monitored smoke detectors installed, firefighters and rescuers would be immediately notified and can respond as soon as possible even if you are away from your home.
Always take note of where are the areas that your pets would like to nap or hide. Look for all the cubby holes and map them out and include this map in your escape plan. This is important information in case you must evacuate your home immediately. Cats tend to hide when they sense stress so they could be difficult to find in case of danger. Use crates for your pets so they would be used to it and they won’t go running when you pull them out in case of emergency.
Take note of the phone number and address of a local animal hospital. With this information, you will easily know where to bring your pets in case they are injured and they will get their treatment as soon as possible.
Prepare emergency supplies and traveling kits beforehand. Plan for the worst-case scenario in case you must evacuate your home during a crisis. Always think ahead and even though you will be gone for only a day, presume that you may not be able to return for several weeks or months. In order for your evacuation to save you more time, make sure that all your pets wear collars and tags with updated identification. Your pet’s ID’s should include their names, your name, and your contact number or email. Also, microchipping is also recommended as a permanent form of identification of your pet. The microchip is placed under the skin in your pet’s shoulder area and can be read by a scanner in most animal shelters. Take note of the microchip number in a piece of paper in case your electronic devices are lost or damaged. Next is that you should have an emergency kit and leashes kept close to an exit. Inform all your family members where the kit is stored and be sure that it is clearly labeled and easy to move and carry. Things to include in your emergency kit are your food and the food of your pets too, water, medication and the medication of your pets, documents of your pets including medical history and other important papers of your pets and photos of your pets in case they get lost or you were separated from them. You should prepare emergency kits that have three to seven days worth of self-sustaining food and water. Medications should be at least seven to fourteen days worth. In case you get separated from your pets, make sure the directions for the dosage of medications are included. The emergency kit should also have a first-aid kit, plastic bags for poop, an extra leash or harness, a food and water dish, a favorite toy of your pet. It is also suggested to keep extra tags with updated information.
Other things that you should include in your emergency kit:
- Pet first-aid kit and guide book
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum pans work best)
- Litter or paper toweling
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
- At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (make sure to store them in a cool, dry place and replace them every two months)
- A travel/duffel bag, crate or sturdy carrier, preferably one for each pet
- Specifically for cats: Pillowcases, toys, scoop-able litter
- Specifically for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
Practice your routine. Your emergency kit should be placed near your pet carrier which should also carry your pet’s information. If your pet’s routine doesn’t include spending much time in a carrier then make sure that they are familiarized with it so you will not have added stress. Another good thing to do is to practice transport routines, like taking them to the car, securing them inside the car, or taking them for a ride.
Keep outdoor pets away from danger too. Outdoor pets are prone to fires too. Keep your pet houses or pens away from areas that are full of woods. In case you have a doghouse or a pen for rabbits or any other outdoor pets, be sure that they are 20 feet away from any brush that could perhaps start a fire. With this, you will have enough time to go out and rescue your pets in case a fire has started burning your property.
We also suggest creating open access. It is smart to leave an outside door open. If you must evacuate immediately and can’t locate your pet inside the house, leave a door open that leads to the outside and call your pet’s name once you already get out of the house. However, this only usually works better for dogs than cats. Dogs will immediately head for your voice in case they hear you. Just be prepared since he’ll be, of course, in a state of panic. Also, make sure that you inform your family members of a designated meeting place near your home so everyone could meet in case there is an emergency.
Practice fire drills with your pets. Your pets must be included in your family fire drills. Practice a scenario where you look for them and get them outside of the house.
Prevent your pets from starting fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association, around 1,000 home fires are accidentally started by the homeowner’s pets. Here are some tips to avoid fires as said by The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services:
- Extinguish open flames – Always make sure that your pets are not left unattended around an open flame since they are generally curious and will explore cooking appliances, candles, and even your fireplace. Also, do not forget to extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
- Remove stove knobs – We greatly suggest to remove stove knobs or place covers over them before leaving your home. This is the most common equipment involved in your pets instigating a fire.
- Invest in flameless candles – These kinds of candles only contain a light bulb instead of an open flame and would prevent your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are known for starting fires when their tails hit a candle.
- Secure young pets – Leave your pets in crates or behind baby gates in safe areas when you leave your home so they would be away from possible fire-starting hazards.
- Always take care of your electrical cords – Always check that there are no dangling electrical chords scattered in your homes. These chords can strangle your pets and even electrocute them if they chewed on it. Chewed and damaged cords should be immediately thrown away and be replaced since they can start a fire.
- Always secure your fireplace – A fireplace can be a comfortable place for family and your pets. However, this can immediately start a fire nearby a rug or a dog bed. We suggest avoiding placing fabric items near a fireplace and also placing a glass fireplace guard to keep the ashes and woods in the fireplace and won’t be scattered around.
- Avoid placing glass water bowls on wood decks – You may not know this and might be new information for you. Apparently, a glass water bowl that was left in the sun can act as a magnifying glass and can make the sun’s rays into a hot beam. When a wood deck is not properly treated with flame-retardants, the heat from the sun could start a fire. Flame-retardants are substances added to materials to avoid catching fire or slow down the burning process. We suggest using plastic or metal bowls instead of glass bowls.
Protecting your pets in case of fire in the outside
Your pets may also be in danger of fires outside of your homes too. During the summer months, families always hold campfires and cookouts and your pets are often together with you at these fun events. It’s currently summer and barbecue parties are common during this season. Although pets can have fun during these events, this can also stress your pets because of new people, strange smells, tempting foods in your grill, and loud noises. It is important as fur parents to be also responsible for our pets too even though we are busy having fun.
- No dogs near the hot grill – According to the National Fire Prevention Association, it is best that all pets should be away from the hot grills at least three feet at all times. Also, the charcoal or lighter fluid used for the grills might attract curious pets and they can kill them due to the toxics if ingested. Also, grease that can be found below your grill can be tempting too and be tasty for your pets. This can cause gastrointestinal problems and even pancreatitis. Moreover, sharp tools for grilling can also be dangerous. For all these reasons, it is very important to keep your pets away from your grill always and the grill should always be attended by someone.
- Keep your pets secure and make sure they have updated information – Your pets can escape and get lost because of the anxiety they may feel because of the many people coming and going. Always make sure that your gates are closed at all times when people are not using it. The second tip is if your dog is on a leash, double-check that the leash is secure. Keep your pet’s identification tags and microchip information always updated in case an emergency happens and if they get lost. In some cases, pets can get lost during gatherings.
Special considerations for horses
- Make sure that your stable and pasture are always clean and tidy. Be wary of hazardous and flammable materials, debris, and machinery from around the walkways of the barn, entrances, and exits. Always maintain and inspect barn floors and septic tanks. Always check your grounds regularly and remove dangerous debris in the pasture.
- You could prevent fires in your barns by making a no smoking policy. Avoid using or leaving your appliances working in the barn-like box fans, heaters, and power tools that can overheat. Also, exposed wiring can lead to electrical fires in the barn and a simple nudge from a horse can accidentally knock over a machine.
- Have your horse always wear a halter and also get him used to “trailering”. At times, you should practice your horse getting on a trailer. This is the same as fire drills happening in schools.
- Always inspect your trailer. Make sure your towing vehicle can carry the trailer and your horse and that the trailer is hitched properly. The hitch should be locked on the ball, safety chains or cables attached and your emergency brake battery is charged and linked to the towing vehicle. Correct tire pressure also counts as important.
- Have your horse well-socialized and be used to being around by strangers. If it is possible, we suggest inviting emergency responders or members of your local fire service to interact with your horse. It would be really good if they become acquainted. Ask the firemen to wear their usual response gear so your horses could get used to their look and smell.
- Have a phone buddy system with different horse owners and local farms in your town. This could help you when you need to evacuate animals or you could share trailers and pastures.
- Make sure that your equine veterinary records are in a safe place and you can quickly get it in times of emergencies. Also, have emergency phone numbers on your phone. Include your 24-hour veterinarian, emergency services, and friends. You should also have a copy of the emergency services personnel in your barn.
Special considerations for birds
- Your pet birds should be transported or moved in a secure travel cage or carrier.
- Make sure that you have a blanket over your pet’s cage during cold weather. This can help your birds reduce the stress they feel when you travel with them.
- Carry a spray bottle to moisten your bird’s feathers during warm weather.
- Prepare your pet bird’s recent photos and have your bird’s leg bands on for identification.
- If your carrier does not have a perch, use paper towels instead so you can always change them.
- Have your carrier in a quiet area as much as possible.
- It is crucial that birds are fed on a daily basis so we suggest buying a timed feeder. The feeder will have his daily feeding schedule in case you need to leave your pet behind out of the blue.
- Items that are handy for your pet bird: catch net, heavy towel, blanket or sheet to cover the cage and cage liner
Special Considerations for Reptiles
- Your pet snake can be transported in a pillowcase. However, it is still important to have permanent and secure cages for the snake when you reach a safe place.
- Have with you a sturdy bowl that is large enough for your pet to soak in. We also suggest bringing a heating pad or any other warming device like a hot water bottle.
- For lizards, they can be transported like birds.
Special Considerations for Small Animals
- For small animals such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, and guinea pigs, they should be transported in secure carriers with blankets, food, and food bowls.
- Some items needed to transport them are salt lick, extra water bottle, small hide box or tube, and a week’s worth of bedding.
Help firefighters help your pets
When leaving your home, we suggest keeping your pets near the entrances of your house. Prepare the leashes for your pets and keep collars on them in case a fire was instigated and firefighters need to rescue your pets. In addition, keep them in areas where the rescuers can easily look for them.
Second, use a pet alert window cling or a rescue alert sticker and include the number of pets inside your house and also the information of your veterinarian and place this on your front window or at your front door. This is very important information so firefighters would immediately know what to rescue and they could easily save time when locating your pets. Also, ensure that the number of your pets listed is updated on the pet alert window cling.
Pet first aid kit in case of other emergencies besides fire
A first aid kit for your pets is needed in case they were injured due to fire or any other kind of accident. Knowing safety measures for your pets can make your life easier. Your pets may obtain minor cuts when they try to escape. Having a pet first aid kit on your go-to bags can lessen your panic and worries during accidents and injuries. Make sure that you keep one kit at home and another one in your car. In that way, you will be immediately prepared in case of an injury. You can readily purchase a kit from one of your local pet stores or you can customize one according to the needs of your pets which you can easily find in your medicine cabinet or pantry or you can easily find them in your local pet store. We hope you never need the kit but this could be really helpful in times of emergency and could keep your pets healthy and safe.
First aid kit checklist for your pets
Step 1: Gather information
The very first step in creating a first aid kit for your pets is to gather copies of important phone numbers, documents, and your pet’s health records and secure them in a safe place. These include the following:
- Your veterinarian’s phone number and the number for your closest 24-hour emergency veterinarian
- Your pet’s vaccination history
- A recent photo (in case your pet gets lost)
Step 2: Invest in a pet first aid guidebook
Do not just rely on the internet search results for information on what to do in case of a pet emergency since they can sometimes lead to non-expert advice and can give you problems during emergencies in case your internet gets disconnected. Although it can also help you, we greatly suggest to also purchase a pet first aid guidebook. It can let you be more aware of what to exactly and correctly do in emergencies or any given situation. Moreover, the information written on the book has already been verified and looked through by veterinarians so you can absolutely trust the book.
Some first aid books are organized alphabetically according to each injury or illness so you can easily browse the needed information. They also include a list of human medicines that are ok to also give to your pets. Furthermore, they also contain charts for temperature, heart rate, and responsiveness to help you know what’s the condition of your pet.
Step 3: Gather and organize your supplies
Have the things needed in your pet first aid kit organized and kept in a waterproof organizer such as a tool kit with a removable top tray or a heavy-duty locking style. These kinds of organizers won’t grab the attention of your curious pets and children.
According to the American Kennel Club and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a well-stocked pet first aid kit contains the following items:
- Vet wrap
- Activated charcoal (which can save your dog’s life from accidental poisoning)
- Blunt-end scissors
- An instant cold pack
- Hydrogen peroxide (used to induce vomiting in dogs in an emergency)
- Tweezers, and an old credit-card for removing bee stingers
- Cotton balls and swabs
- A penlight or flashlight
- Nail clippers
- Veterinary antibiotic ointment (antibiotic creams such as Neosporin is not recommended for dogs)
- Vetericyn (so that your pets won’t feel pain when cleaning the wound and to help with skin irritations)
Step 3: Collect other emergency essentials
Another thing to consider is gathering also a few other things you may need to transport or comfort a sick or injured pet. These things include:
- A pet carrier
- A spare leash (a slip rope leash, that allows you to quickly secure a dog on the move)
- A collapsible water bowl and extra water
- Your dog’s favorite, non-perishable treats, and a spare favorite toy
Step 4: Get it all together and review
Make sure to review all the information we have given to make your own pet first aid kit and take some time to organize and gather all the things needed. Now that you have the needed information to organize a first aid kit for your pets, it is also important to think of an emergency preparedness plan for your pet in case of an emergency.
Final thoughts about the pet first aid kit
Organizing a first aid kit for your pets could come a long way for both of you and your pet. Keeping a fully-stocked kit ready on hand for your pets can prevent minor injuries leading to a trip to a pet hospital early in the morning. For instance, an antibiotic ointment may prevent a minor cut from becoming infected and getting worse. Meanwhile, pet-friendly activated charcoal mixed with water can help your pets vomit the poison they had accidentally ingested. It’s really better to be prepared than being sorry so we greatly suggest creating and organizing a pet first aid kit.
Help pets recover after an emergency
Your pets may become aggressive or defensive when they experience stressful situations such as emergencies like fires, earthquakes, storms, or any other natural disaster. Their behavior may change dramatically. Always take note of their well being and protect them from further hazards and other dangers to ensure their safety.
- Always keep a close watch on your pets and keep them under your control as fences and gates may have been damaged and they might escape.
- Your pets may become too stressed and disoriented especially if the disaster affected their scent markers. Scent markers allow them to find their home so be wary of their change of behavior.
- Take note of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level especially debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers, and other substances that may endanger your pets.
- We also suggest consulting your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.
Ask us for help or about pet fire safety or about anything that may be bothering you
Now that you have more information regarding pet safety, please do all the tips that we suggested so that you could have your pets safe and away from danger. If you have any queries or things that are not clear to you, we will be more than glad to answer you. Don’t forget to get in touch with us and please do contact us if you have any questions. We hope you and your pets are always safe.