Pet Disaster Preparedness: Home Fires

Pet Fire Safety

In the last decade, there’s been an average of 370,000 home fires a year in the U.S. As devastating as it might be to think about, what if one of those homes were yours?

Until fireproof homes come along, it’s important for families to have a plan of action to keep everyone, including their pets, safe.

Do you know what to do in the event your home catches fire with you or your pet inside?

In honor of National Pet Disaster Preparedness Month, Redbarn reached out to Erik Scott, a fire captain, paramedic, and public information officer for the Los Angeles Fire Department, to answer our questions on pets and fire safety.

Erik offered some unique insights about keeping our family and pets safe during a home fire. Take a look at his helpful responses below!

What are some fire safety essentials pet owners should have prepared before the event of a house fire?

When it comes to surviving fire, you need to have the 3 W’s: A Warning, A Weapon, and a Way Out!

1)Your Warning

The notion that your pet will awaken you to a home fire is a deadly mistake. The same smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms that will save your life, will also save the life of your pet. Make sure you have both types of alarms installed and maintained in full compliance with local regulations.

Test every smoke and CO alarm monthly and change any replaceable batteries at least once each year, or when indicated by the device. Replace the entire device immediately if it fails a test despite fresh batteries or when it reaches the end of its service life, which is typically no more than ten years after the date of manufacture printed on the back of the device.

2)Your Weapon

Knowledge is power, and fire prevention is the key. If despite your best effort, a small fire erupts in your presence, it may be possible to keep it from becoming a large one through the safe and proper use of a fire extinguisher. We recommend keeping at least two multipurpose (A:B:C) fire extinguishers in your home, learning how to use them properly, and storing them for quick access near the kitchen and garage.

Never fight a large fire, one that creates a large volume of smoke or interferes with your direct exit from a room. A pot lid or cookie sheet can often be used as a covering to squelch flames from a simple pan or skillet fire. Be sure to call 9-1-1 if there is any doubt about full control of the fire, or if anyone is injured. Pets, especially birds, can be sensitive to smoke from even a small fire. Get your pets safely to fresh air and consult with your veterinarian if you believe they are ill.

3)Your Way Out

Plan and practice your home fire escape plan with your pet. You may have fun teaching your pet the behavior you anticipate when a smoke detector sounds, and that includes joining you for a safe escape via the two exits available from each room.” If you are awakened or alerted by a smoke detector, there are two simple things to remember:

Get Low and Go!

Get Out and Stay Out!

What are simple steps to help prevent your cat or dog from starting a home fire?

Cooking, smoking, heating, electrical and candle issues remain the most common causes of house fires, including those that kill pets and people. While it is rare for a pet to actively start a fire, such blazes do happen, most often when a pet interacts inappropriately with cooking, smoking materials, heating or electrical devices and candles.

The smell of cooked food often entices unattended cats and dogs to jump to the table or stovetop, where toppling items can ignite combustibles, such as towels, tablecloths, and curtains, or even activate a switch or burner. You should avoid using candles when pets are unattended in the home, and never leave pets alone in a kitchen when cooking is in progress.

Firefighters recommend a 3” minimum pet-free zone near stoves that can be readily marked by a large non-slip floor mat. It is important to teach pets that the mat is off limits at all times, and never offered food from the stovetop.

Ashtrays, space heaters, and barbecue grills have also been toppled by rambunctious pets, often with calamitous results. Always remove used smoking materials and coals to a metal can promptly and drown them completely, before closing that can with a tight-fitting metal lid for safe outdoor storage away from pets and combustibles.

Pets with chewing issues have started house fires or been electrocuted when they bite into extension cords or power strips, so please limit their presence to where they are safe and necessary, and never use an electric heating blanket for a pet bed.

Should pet owners attempt to rescue their pets from house fires? Why or why not? What should they do?

Firefighter pets a dog after home fire

Smoke from a fire will kill you and your pet long before you feel the heat of flames. If you are awakened by a smoke detector, roll out of bed to the floor and immediately crawl below the deadly smoke, which will rise to the ceiling. You can call out for your dog to join you. ‘Let’s Go For a Ride’ often works well, but never – and we mean never- delay your crawling exit of a smoke-filled home in an attempt to find your pet.

Pets often escape on their own, while owners are attempting a search succumb to the deadly smoke. If you and your pet are separated, inform first arriving firefighters about the animal and where you believe it to be. Firefighters will methodically search your home and pledge to make the rescue of your best friend a top priority. If your pet has safely escaped, seek to corral them in a vehicle or neighbor’s yard to prevent them from being injured by firefighting operations. Consult your veterinarian If your pet has been exposed to smoke or otherwise traumatized, consult your veterinarian.

What should you do if your cat or dog catches fire?

Fire pits, fireplaces, barbecues, and candles are among the most common ways that our furry friends catch fire. Though we enjoy our companion animals, there are times when they should be sequestered from the flame. If a pet catches fire, do what you can to prevent them from running, and seek to completely smother the flame with a towel, blanket or jacket. Use a water source only if it will lead to no delay. Even a minor burn should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

Are there any other tips/advice, in particular, you would love to share with pet owners about fire safety and home fire prevention?

Your commitment to home fire safety is an important gift to your pet and the firefighters standing ready to protect them. If you have additional questions about fire safety and your pet, we encourage you to visit the firefighters who proudly protect your community.


Pet Disaster Preparedness: Home Fire Tips to Remember

  • Keep pets away from open flames and out of the kitchen while you’re cooking; Firefighters recommend a 3” minimum pet-free zone near stoves that can be readily marked by a large non-slip floor mat.
  • When it comes to surviving fire, you need to have the 3 W’s: A Warning, A Weapon, and a Way Out!
  • Never use an electric heating blanket for a pet bed.
  • Equip your home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms
  • Get Low and Go! Get Out and Stay Out!
  • Plan and practice your home fire escape plan with your pet.
  • Never delay your crawling exit of a smoke-filled home in an attempt to find your pet.
  • If you and your pet are separated, inform first arriving firefighters about the animal and where you believe it to be.
  • Pets with chewing issues have started house fires or been electrocuted when they bite into extension cords or power strips. Keep in mind, Redbarn natural chews like Bones and Bully Sticks can help with your dog’s natural urge to chew.

Special thanks to the Erik Scott and Los Angeles Fire Department for sharing these life-saving tips about house fire preparedness for pets.

Did you learn something new about pet disaster preparedness? Are there any additional fire safety tips not mentioned that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t forget to share these valuable tips with your friends and family on your favorite social media platforms!


All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarninc.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.

Want to learn more about Redbarn?

Subscribe to learn the Redbarn story and get our latest content by email.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Post Your Thoughts