National Pet Fire Safety Day

In summer, there’s nothing better than a roaring campfire and some marshmallows for roasting. Make sure this year the marshmallows are the only thing you roast. As you know by now,  July 15th is recognized as National Pet Fire Safety Day.

I know what you’re thinking – did we really need this day? I mean don’t we already have National Don’t Set your Dog On Fire Day (October 32nd) and International Dogs Aren’t Flammable no Matter What You Think Day (April 3.1415), but I would disagree. National Pet Fire Safety Day isn’t completely about keeping your pets safe (although that’s a big part of it!). It’s about keeping you safe!

The message for NPFSD (organized by the National Volunteer Fire Council) is two-fold: don’t let your pets get burned, and don’t give them the opportunity to start a fire in your home.

Dogs are like permanent toddlers – always wanting to know, hey, what’s that smoky, flamey thing there? and they can get into a whole mountain of trouble before you know it – trouble that can lead to pain, injury and a heap of high veterinary bills and even the loss of your home if they start a fire.

Here are a few pet fire safety tips:

  • Extinguish open flames – pets are very curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles or even a fire in the fireplace. Remember – toddlers grow up, but pets never do!
  • Pet-proof your home – walk around your home and look for potential trouble where pets might accidentally start a fire.
  • Secure young pets – keep young pets, especially puppies, confined when you are away from home. Use a crate, exercise pen (X-pen) or secure room.
  • Practice your escape with pets in mind – keep a leash or a carrier at the ready in case you have to make a speedy exit – near the door is best.
  • Affix a “Pet Alert Window Cling” – attach the sticker to a front window or door to alert rescuers that pets are inside. You can obtain a free window cling at http://www.adt.com/pets.

I have not seen that many burn cases in my 16 years as an emergency veterinarian, but a few do stand out in my mind. I remember a little dachshund with the cosmically appropriate name of Chili who was off for a camping weekend with his family when he decided to make a running jump into the ashes of the prior night’s campfire – ashes that looked grey and cool on the top, but hid a layer of red embers underneath. “Chili” became “fire-roasted Chili” in the blink of an eye, and needed a few weeks of treatment to get his (thankfully only second-degree) burns to heal.

My very own cat, Crispy (I am seriously not making this name up – although Crispy was named after his little flambé episode) is a burn victim – see the above photo. Some troglodyte doused him with lighter fluid when he was a wee stray cat and then proceeded to set him aflame – all in full view of a crowd of onlookers. The troglodyte went to jail, the cat came to me for treatment courtesy of Animal Control. A stray cat with second degree burns on his head usually only ends in tragedy, so I decided to take him on and adopt him. This was about 10 years ago and he is doing fine now, and is a strong supporter of National Pet Fire Safety Day.

So learn from the lessons of Chili and Crispy – take care when you have an open flame, and make sure your pets stay well away from the fire. And make sure there is no way that your pets can start a fire in your home. You’ll be glad you did! Sergeant’s cares about you and your pets – we want you to be safe!

Have you ever had any incidents where you pets came into contact with a fire? Have you ever had your pets come close to starting a fire in your home?  Share your experiences in the comments section and tell us about it.

 

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