We never expect a fire to affect our lives, to take our homes, or endanger our lives. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared in the event that it does. A little preparation goes a long way. Knowing in advance what to do if tragedy strikes can not only mean the difference between your own life and death, but that of your dog as well.
1. Practice! It might seem a little silly at the time, and your dog certainly won’t know what’s going on, but practice how you’ll escape in the event of a fire. Decide who in the family grabs what (and which pet), have a bag already prepared that includes survival necessities like dog food, bottled water, a bowl, leashes, and medications, and determine a meeting place outside. (For example, we’ll all meet under the big oak tree out front!) Then, pretend the house is on fire. Practice scooping up the pets, grabbing the bag, and meeting outside. Make sure you’ve got the routine down pat – it might seem like a piece of cake now, but in the chaos of an emergency, your practice will certainly pay off.
2. Make Sure Collars are Up-to-date! When the time comes to renew your dog’s tags, put the current tags on right away. It’s easy to drop your dog’s license in a junk drawer and plan to come back for it later… but you might not get that chance in an emergency. If your dog isn’t wearing his collar indoors, make sure it’s kept by a door and easily accessible if you need to get out in a rush – and make sure the tags are current. Pets sometimes get lost, or run away scared, in a chaotic situation. With proper identification, it will be that much more likely that you’ll get your four-legged friend back where he belongs.
3. Pack a Pet First Aid Kit! Most homes have a first aid kit for the family. Make sure your kit includes doggie essentials as well: food & treats, leash, bowls, water, plastic bags (for collecting waste), a favorite toy, blanket or towel, bandages, your pet’s medical history, and recent photos of your dog in case he goes missing). Keep your kit in an easy-to-reach place and grab it in an evacuation.
4. Get (and use) Pet Alert Decals! These decals or window clings are normally placed on a main door or window and alert emergency responders to the number and type of pets living in your home. In the case of a fire for example, a quick glance at the sticker will tell your firefighter that you have a dog and 2 cats inside. Want to be even more prepared? Put up more than one sticker – at the front and again at the rear of the home. Remember to keep these stickers current!
You can get a FREE Pet Safety Pack that includes pet alert decals and an ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center refrigerator magnet by visiting the ASPCA HERE.
5. Install Fire Detectors in Your Home! Kitchens and bedrooms are a good place to start, but don’t forget smoke detectors in basements, attics, or garages as well. Many fires start in these rooms, so strategically placed detectors can alert you to a fire much sooner than if you wait for the smoke to reach your bedroom. Keep fresh batteries in the detectors and test that they work from time to time.
Nothing will ruin your day quite like a fire in your home – except losing your pet in that fire, too. Just a few short minutes of preparation and practice from time to time can make all the difference in the world.