Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association estimate that there were over 350,000 U.S. home fires in 2009 alone, with 2,565 human fatalities. Many of these domiciles included pets, a half million of which are affected by fires each year. In fact, pets are sometimes the catalyst for devastating fires, with approximately 1,000 house fires caused by domesticated animals each year. The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services sponsor National Pet Fire Safety Day in order to raise awareness about pets’ dangerous potential to start fires, and to help families plan for the safety of their feathered and furry friends in the event of an emergency. Observed every July 15th, the day gives pet parents the opportunity to assess their fire preparedness and to pickup a ‘Pet Alert Window Cling’ for free at participating Firehouses.
When we celebrated Check Your Batteries Day in March, we reviewed our clumsiness with fire. While some of us in this family like to set the woods on fire, and others prefer the smell of their own burning hair, we’ve actually had pretty good luck when it comes to fires. There have been plenty of diffused situations that could have gone a lot worse. But the idea of a fire and its devastating consequences has always weighed heavily on my mind. When I was a kid a beautiful house less than a mile away burned almost to the ground and I remember how my heart ached for the family that had once called it home. As I’ve grown older and added dependents to my family (yes, dogs count….and chinchillas too), the idea of any harm coming to them sets me on edge. I especially worry about something happening when I’m not at home to protect them, and that’s the very reason that I never leave home — not even to run to my parents’ house down the street for even just a minute — with the dishwasher, oven, or washer and dryer running. Even if there was a freak accident, I don’t think I could forgive myself if my carelessness hurt my fur-babies.
Luckily, I’ve never seen any of our dogs or chinchilla’s exhibiting dangerous, potentially flame-starting behaviors — all of the electrical sockets are covered in the “chinchilla room” and there are absolutely no electronics, we keep any burning candles on high surfaces and always blow them out before bed, and the dogs are usually quite good about staying away from the stovetop. Still, I’m smart enough to know that I should never say never, so I decided to review the Red Cross’s National Pet Fire Safety Day tips.