By LuAnn McLain
Last winter, a friend and his wife lost their house and pets to fire. The dogs were outside, but the smoke and heat still killed them. Living in the country and no one at home left the fire unreported until much too late.
We are reminded each October of the importance of fire prevention precautions. We are also given tips on making a plan for evacuation of our homes in case of fire. Our pets need to be part of our emergency plans.
Smoke detectors, strategically placed, and regular battery replacement in them, are crucial to fire safety. Fire fighting officials recommend replacing the batteries in all smoke detectors every time we change the clocks for daylight savings or return to standard time. It is also recommended that the detectors be checked each month to determine they are working.
Plan your familys safe evacuation plan in advance. Be sure to include the family pets. During a fire, pets will most likely be terrified. They will seek a hiding place. If a pet is missing, search where the pet is known to sleep or hide.
Pets will best be escorted from the fire with leashes, crates, or cages. In fact, this works best in any emergency. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
In an emergency, a cat can be carried in a pillow case. A dog which has been trained is more likely to be cooperative with family members during evacuation and the chaos that will follow.
An emergency kit should be assembled that will be useful for all types of emergencies. Be sure to include some pet food and a non-electric can opener. A bag of dry food should be on hand, too. The dry food will need to be rotated every couple of months to keep it fresh. Health records for our pets should also be included because if a pet needs to be taken to a boarding facility, such documents will be required.
Collars with current license tags and vaccination tags are best left on our pets at all times along with proper identification.
A pet is easily separated from owners during emergencies. Without identification, he may loose his chance to be reunited with owners. A recent photograph that can be photocopied is also important. Copies can be distributed in a search for a lost pet to veterinarians, shelters, boarding kennels, posters, etc.
Since fire or other emergency may strike when no humans are at home, it is helpful to have stickers posted on front doors or windows that indicate there are pets inside. Neighbors can be a big help, too, provided they know what pets may be in the home.
Joining with neighbors to share information about pets can be especially important and beneficial to neighborhoods. Other information such as an elderly family member possibly needing assistance can also be shared.
Should the unfortunate actually happen, a fire in the home, pets will need quick veterinarian care. Animals suffer from serious smoke inhalation in only a matter of minutes. Pets can also have burns that are not readily visible because the burns are concealed under the fur or feathers.
Precautions and safety plans cant always save us from bad experiences. There is no way to anticipate all the possibilities. We do our best to prepare and hope the preparations are never needed.
Have a safe week with your companion critters. If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets, write Box 1731, Havre MT 59501.