As you already know, bringing a dog into your house is a huge responsibility. While you may think about day-to-day safety hazards that your pup could come into contact with, you might be neglecting to think of emergency situations that require special attention. Most families set up a fire safety plan for the humans, but it’s important to think about your four-legged family members as well.
1. Never lock your dog in a room
While dogs are contained in a lot of different ways when owners aren’t home, there are a few details to think about in case of an emergency. Nobody wants to imagine their pup stuck at home when tragedy strikes, but it’s crucial to think of every scenario so you can be prepared for the worst.
Containing a dog to a certain area or room is fine and sometimes recommended, however, make sure that the door to the room that holds your pet is always unlocked — or consider using baby gates. If emergency personnel were to arrive on the scene, having easy access to the pet will create a quick and safe route out of danger.
If tragedy were to strike while you weren’t home to help your pet to safety, it’s important to easily notify the emergency people on the scene that there is an animal inside. The ASPCA will mail you a free Pet Alert sticker if you fill out a short form and on it you can state how many dogs or cats you have in the house.
In scary situations, many dogs will hide instead of run. Know where your pet feels safest, as that may be the first place they will go when they sense danger. If an emergency officer is having a hard time finding your pet, it’s good to have this knowledge ready and available.
4. Keep a leash near your escape route
Whether it’s a fire escape, a low window, or simply the front or back door, make sure you keep a leash and harness near your safety escape route so that you can safely remove your dog from the dangerous situation. A frightened dog that never runs from you may change his mind when his nerves are put to the test, so taking precautions is your best bet in case of an emergency.
Test your dog’s boundaries. Place a treat or piece of food on surfaces at different heights to see how tall your dog can be on four legs or two. Then, make sure that any lit candles are well out of Fido’s reach. Even if your dog wouldn’t normally go after something like a candle, wagging tails are powerful (and dangerous) around an open flame!
If your dog is tall enough to reach the stove knobs on a gas stove on either all fours or his hind legs, consider taking off the knobs before leaving the house. If your stove doesn’t have this ability, consider purchasing stove knob protectors like these to avoid dangerous accidents.
This may not seem relevant to fire safety, but it’s extremely important. Dogs run away all the time during emergencies like fires, floods, hurricanes, storms, etc. and often times in the process they can lose their collar (or aren’t wearing one at all). To avoid losing your best friend, microchip your dog so that your identification is always tied to him no matter where he wanders off to.
Monitored smoke alarms are a good idea if you leave your pup unattended at home often and are fearful of the worst. A monitored smoke alarm will immediately alert 911 when it goes off, so the firemen can be at your home even when you aren’t.