In June of 2018, the Associated Press reported that a German Shephard dog started a fire in a NJ home when it accidentally turned on an electric stove. Officials believe the dog was looking for food and got up on its hind legs, and hit a knob — turning on the stove’s rear burner — and pushed nearby flammable items onto the stove. A ceiling fan that was running on low then lifted some of the burning items onto a nearby foam dog bed, which ignited and filled the home’s bottom floor with smoke. Firefighters rescued the dog and put out the fire.
Believe it or not, more than 1,000 house fires are started by pets every year. In fact, the number one cause of pet-related house fires is cat or dog nudging a knob on the stove and accidentally igniting the fire. Other fires involve curious pets interacting with fireplaces, chimneys, space heaters, lamps, bulbs, wiring, and candles.
United States Fire Administration reports that 500,000 pets are affected annually by fires, with more than 40,000 losing their lives in residential fires each year.
“Actively taking steps to protect your home and having fire sprinklers installed are optimal ways to keep your pets and entire family safe if a home fire occurs,” explains David Kurasz, Executive Director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Sprinklers can react in seconds any time of the day or night, so you know your home is protected from fire even when you are not there to monitor your pet’s behavior.”
Here are some tips to help prevent pets from accidentally causing fires:
No Climbing/Jumping: Train pets and discourage them from climbing or jumping anywhere in the house, but especially in the kitchen.
No Chewing: If a pet bites into wires, sparks could fly and cause surrounding objects to burst into flames. Cover wire in a bitter spray so the pet associates it with a bad taste to discourage chewing.
No Glass Bowls: The American Humane Society recommends using stainless steel or ceramic dishes – not glass — outside, especially on wooden surfaces. The glass can magnify the sun’s rays starting a fire on the wood.
Safety Sweep: Just as you would sweep a room and remove potential hazards for young children, the same precautions should be taken for your pets.
- Install child-safety knobs on stoves to prevent pets from accidentally turning them on.
- Keep all items, particularly flammable ones, away from open flames, stoves or heat sources.
- Keep candles out of reach from curious pets and extinguish flames when you leave the room.
- Check for loose or damaged wires that could be a fire hazard.
- To prevent a pet from getting burned, maintain a gate or 3 foot “pet-free zone” around fireplaces, fire pits and wood burning stoves.
Family & Pet Fire Drill: Make sure to include pets in fire emergency escape plans.
- Take your pet with you when you practice your escape plan
- Know where your pet likes to hide when scared so you can easily locate them in an emergency
- Adults – not children – should be responsible for getting the pets out if a fire breaks out.
- Never go back into a burning building to save your pet – firefighters are trained to save pets and even have lifesaving equipment if needed.
Since pets can’t be taught fire prevention, fire sprinklers are a great option to protect your home from all fires, not just those caused by pets. “Fire sprinklers are extremely effective at controlling the spread of fire and often extinguishing fires before the fire department arrives,” said Kurasz. “But more importantly, fire sprinklers save lives, reducing the risk of dying in a home fire by 85%.”
For more Pet Fire Safety Resources visit the links below: