Friday, December 11, 2009
By Ruthie Bently
Fire safety is just as important for our pets as it is for us. You can get window decals that let fire personnel know how many and what kind of animals are in your house. Most firefighters will attempt to save household pets if they can. Some fire departments now even have special oxygen masks to fit pets’ faces, as human ones are usually too large for them.
Do you have a fire safety procedure that includes your pets? You should have an evacuation plan and a prearranged place to meet in case of an emergency. Start by getting every member of the family involved; if you have older kids or teenagers, you can assign each of them a pet to be responsible for. Have a family meeting and make an evacuation plan. Your evacuation plan should include multiple methods of leaving your house if your main door is inaccessible. If you live in a multi-level home, you may want to invest in a safety ladder in case anyone has to leave from an upper story.
So how do you prepare to evacuate your pets in case of a fire? Practice, practice, practice. It is a good idea to make sure your pet(s) are comfortable with their carriers. With repetitive training you can even train them to go into their carriers, by using a treat or a favorite toy as a bribe. By doing this once a week, you can get them used to going in their carriers in case of an emergency. If you have a pet that gets nervous, there are several holistic preparations available to help calm them down.
If you have a cat that goes under a bed and won’t come out, get a pillow case and put the cat in it and knot the neck. The cat will be able to breathe through the pillow case though will not be able to see what is going on, and should be less stressed. It is a good idea to have your pet’s health records in a file near the front door. You should have collars, leads and name tags for all your animals even if they don’t usually wear them. If you keep their carriers and emergency equipment near the door you hope to leave from, this will make your task that much easier.
You should also have the proper tools in your house to help prevent a fire; these include fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and a safety ladder if your house has more than one story. We have two fire extinguishers; one in the kitchen and one in the living room. If you have a fireplace in the living room, you should have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Fire extinguishers come in different styles, depending on what kind of fires they are used to fight. Attach the extinguisher to a wall, away from children and heat sources, but still accessible. When purchasing a fire extinguisher, discuss what kind of fire you may encounter, so you can get the proper extinguisher and one you can handle easily. Learn how to use your fire extinguisher and don’t wait until you have a fire to try it out.
Another very important fire safety tool is a working smoke detector. You should have one near the kitchen and one between the living room and bedrooms; if your home is multi-leveled you should have one on each level. There are several varieties of smoke detectors to choose from, including some which help the hearing impaired. Most are battery operated and should be tested at least once a month. The batteries should be replaced at least once a year, although the fire department suggests changing them with the daylight savings time change every six months.
Last but not least is a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, which includes oil, wood, propane, natural gas and coal. Because it is colorless, tasteless and odorless, many people and their pets die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide can build up in any area that is not well ventilated, where there is a stove or fireplace that uses any of the above mentioned fuels. Some of the danger signs to look for are a fire that is hard to light, a fire that goes out or burns slowly, gas flames that burn yellow or orange instead of blue, and soot on or around the appliance being used. Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect both humans and pets; symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, feeling drowsy or tiredness. Having a carbon monoxide detector in the house can help measure levels before they get out of hand and become an emergency that sends you or your pets to the hospital.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently