by Kavita Chowdhary, Regional Sales Director, Main Street America Insurance
According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 358,500 home fires occur each year, resulting in costly damages, injuries and even deaths. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your home and family in the event of a fire. Here are a few pet safety tips to ensure your furry friends are safe, even if you’re away from home:
Create a Home Fire Safety Checklist
Taking the time to create a home fire safety checklist is a good idea for every member of the family. Use this list to keep track of everything from when to test your smoke detectors, where to find important documents and contact information you’ll need in the event of a fire.
For your pet, be sure to include an emergency veterinarian and pet friendly hotels or other accommodations should you need to leave home long-term.
Reduce Fire Hazards
The best thing you can to for your family is take a proactive approach to fire safety. Keep electrical cords tidy, don’t plug in more than an outlet can handle and take care with items that have a high risk of starting a fire. With pets, here are a few extra steps you should take to reduce fire hazards in your home:
- Keep candles out of reach of wagging tales or curious cats.
- Remove oven knobs when leaving home, especially on gas ranges.
- If your pet’s a chewer, keep electrical cords covered or placed out of reach.
- Never leave a pet unattended near in-use fireplaces or space heaters.
Have a Safety Plan
While you’re working on your checklist, don’t forget to create a fire safety plan that every member of the family can follow. Map out exit plans, carefully considering how you’ll evacuate in any scenario. Designate a family member whose job it will be to help pets evacuate while the others get to safety, and have a plan for any important documents or items you’ll want to try to bring with you.
Prepare Your Pet
The idea of safely evacuating a pet during a fire can be nerve-wracking, but there are things you can do to ensure even the smallest members of your family are ready. Regularly work with your pet on recall commands, even in exciting or stressful situations, and keep treats and a leash handy so you can quickly grab it in an emergency. Include pets in any fire drills and practice securing them quickly to help ease their stress and ensure a successful exit if you need to evacuate.
Reduce Their Risk
Perhaps the scariest part of pet ownership is knowing that fires can happen while your pet is home alone. Here are a few pet fire safety tips to keep them safe, even when you’re away:
- Buy a responsive fire alarm that contacts emergency services if smoke is detected.
- Crate your pet or keep them in a secure location close to an exit for easy access.
- Place a sign that a pet is home on prominent doors and/or windows alerting first responders.
- Keep your pet’s carrier or leash near the exit so first responders can easily secure and remove them.
- Have your pet microchipped and keep the contact information up to date, which will help rescuers reunite you and your furry friend if they get lost.
Other Tips for Protecting Your Home
Once you have a plan and you know your pets are as secure as possible, here are a few other fire safety tips for protecting your home:
Conduct Safety Checks
Regularly evaluate your home’s safety – check for fire hazards like jumbled cords or faulty electrical wiring. If you find an issue, fix it as quickly as possible to reduce your family’s risk. As part of your safety check, review your home fire safety checklist and fire safety plan and make any necessary adjustments based on things like new family members, renovations made to your home and anything else that might have changed.
As we said before, there’s no better approach than staying proactive. Ensure your home has working smoke detectors and other safety alarms, and regularly test and replace batteries to keep everything in good shape. Keep pathways to your exits clear and have important items at the ready so you can evacuate quickly and safely. And, most importantly, ensure every member of the family knows the plan and is ready to go at a moments notice.
Have the Right Insurance
Try as you might, you can never 100% prevent a house fire. When the unthinkable happens, it’s also important to ensure you have the right insurance coverage in place to protect your family and quickly restore your home without breaking the bank. Your homeowners insurance policy will pay to cover any damages caused by the fire, smoke or water damage. In most cases, it will also cover your expenses should you need to relocate while repairs are made. Talk to us to make sure you have the right homeowners coverages and deductibles in place for your home.