Well over 350,000 residential fires strike the United States each year, leading to the death of 40,000 pets on average. While most people recognize the importance of developing a sound plan for protecting themselves and their families in the event of a fire, many people fail to consider their pets. In recognition of National Pet Fire Safety Day on July 15, here's a look at several key actions you can take to help prevent fires and keep your furry family members safe.


Extinguish Open Flames

Open flames are an obvious fire hazard regardless of the circumstances, but they become even more so in the presence of pets. Of particular concern are candles and fireplaces, which are among the most common pet-related fire ignition sources. Be sure to extinguish these and other flames before leaving the room, and never leave an open flame unattended near curious animals. Additionally, candles should only be placed on sturdy surfaces and well out of reach.


Make Everyone Easy to Find

It's a scenario we shudder to think about: you leave your cat or dog alone in the house for a few hours, and in the meantime, a devastating fire erupts. Firefighters search the house, but they fail to find your pet. While you may not be able to prevent a fire, you can increase the odds of firefighters finding everyone before it’s too late. If possible, keep your pets located near your home's main entrance while you're gone, and keep leashes and collars nearby to save time. Consider placing a sticker or sign in clear view that indicates how many pets are in your home so firefighters can save additional time searching.


Put Puppies and Kittens First

Every pet owner knows that young puppies and kittens are particularly mischievous, but sometimes their energy and curiosity can become a real threat if left unsupervised. Keeping young pets in a secure place while you're away, either in a crate or enclosure or by using pet gates to seal off a designated area, will help to prevent accidents and reduce potential fire hazards. However, remember to keep them in areas that will be easy to reach in case of emergency.


Take Advantage of Technology

There are several advantages to installing a surveillance cameras or monitored smoke alarms in your home. In addition to alerting you and notifying the proper authorities in the event of a fire, a remote alarm system is also an excellent way to monitor your pets while you're away. With the help of today’s “smart” technology, there are numerous ways to keep tabs on your furry friends no matter where you are.


Pet-Proof Your Home

Regardless of the other measures you may take to protect your pets, fire prevention is still the best solution. Before leaving the house, you should take a few minutes to ensure that your home is properly pet-proofed. One simple and important step is to remove the knobs from your stove. A stove or cooktop is the most common source of pet-related home fires, and removing the knobs before leaving will ensure that your pets cannot accidentally ignite the stove. Additionally, look for low-lying electrical cords and other wires that your pet may be able to chew.


Your animals are a beloved part of the family and they deserve to be treated as such. On July 15th concerned pet parents can click over to the ASPCA website for a free Pet Safety Pack, and look here and here online for additional planning tips. Just as you should spend time developing and practicing fire safety plans for your family, you should spend this year's National Pet Fire Safety Day thinking about your four-legged friends. A little practice and planning can reduce the risk of pet-related fire and significantly increase everyone’s odds of survival in the event of an emergency.