Fire survival for pets

Published 2:46 pm Monday, October 18, 2010

The recent tragedy in our area has shed light on just how important fire safety and prevention is. Not only is it smart to have a fire plan for your family, but you need to include your furry friends in your planning.

Without a practiced plan, during a panicked state, Fido can easily be left behind to fend for himself.

It is a good idea to include your pets in your home fire drills. During drills you should mimic the confusion of an emergency.

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Like children, pets will become easily confused during a fire. You can ease the confusion by teaching your dog basic commands and by teaching them how to navigate the house quickly. Leashes should always be kept in the same place, so they can quickly be located during a fire.

Another good idea is to have pet crates on hand. You most likely will have to stay with someone while your house is being repaired and it may be necessary to crate your dog.

While it may be ok for Fido to sleep on your couch, your family member or friend may not feel the same way.

It is also good to have an emergency kit ready for your family and your pet. A pet’s emergency kit should include a small bag of food, bottled water, collar, and a leash. If you own a cat, you should include a litter box and litter.

To alert firefighters and rescue personnel that you have pets, you can place stickers in the windows of your home. Rescue workers have the obligation to rescue people first and they will then save pets if possible.

Once pets are removed from a burning home, they may suffer from smoke inhalation. Oxygen masks for humans are not designed to fit pets, so they will not be as effective as a mask made specifically for pets. Because of the great love people have for their pets, many fire departments now have pet specific mask available.

Not only should you have a fire plan, consider planning for other disasters and include your pets in these plans. Pet owners will no longer have to make the decision to leave their pet behind thanks to a new law that came about after Hurricane Katrina.

It is called the Pets Evacuation Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act). Under the new law, emergency personnel have to include pets in their emergency plans.

The key to surviving any emergency is preparedness. So let’s get Fido prepared and prepare to keep our entire family safe. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop