According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 1,000 house fires are started each year by family pets.
To raise awareness of these statistics, the American Kennel Club (AKC), ADT Security Services and National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are joining forces for the third annual National Pet Fire Safety Day tomorrow.
“Not many pet owners realize that their pet can actually be the cause of a devastating fire,” AKC Spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said in a press release. “Simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.”
The AKC tells the story of Chris and Kay Wardlow of Oklahoma, whose dog Lucy tried to get a taste of a cake left on top of the stove while the couple was away from home. Lucy’s paw bumped a knob, turning on a gas burner under the cake pan. The house quickly filled with smoke. Fortunately firefighters were able to save the house – and Lucy.
Other dogs and their owners have not been so lucky. The NVFC reports that 500,000 pets are affected annually by fires. To help reduce this troubling statistic, fire departments across the country are being encouraged to spread pet fire safety awareness in their communities on July 15.
The AKC, ADI and NVFC offer the following tips to help prevent your pet from accidentally starting a fire.
- Extinguish open flames – Curious pets may investigate cooking appliances, candles or even a fire in your fireplace. Never leave your pet unattended near an open flame, and be sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flames before you leave your home.
- Remove stove knobs – Either remove the knobs or place covers over them before you leave the house. Stoves and cooktops are the No. 1 causes of fires started accidentally by pets.
- Use flameless candles – A candle that uses a light bulb instead of a flame won’t start a fire if it’s knocked over by your pet.
- Don’t use glass water bowls outdoors on wooden decks – The sun’s rays can actually heat up the water and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Deflect the sunlight by using a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead.
- Pet proof your home –Walk around your home and check for situations where your pet could accidentally start a fire, such as loose wires.
For tips on keeping your pets safe in the event of a fire, see Pet Parents Should Prepare for Emergencies.
“Planning for unexpected emergencies like home fires and taking these precautions are an integral part of responsible pet ownership,” Peterson said.