In our house, Newton uses the stove knobs as a stepping stone to the kitchen counter when he is looking for between-meal snacks. He turned on on the gas burner this way one day. Luckily, someone was standing at the counter to turn it off, but we realized we needed stronger fire safety measures at home.
June 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day to help remind us about hazards like Newton’s paws. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that animals accidentally set over 500 house fires every year in the country, most frequently related to the burners on the stove. The NFPA says that the stove or cooktop is the number one piece of equipment involved with pets starting household fires. With over 500,000 pets are impacted by fire annually, this is a good day to stop and assess whether there is anything else you can do for the safety of your cat and your family from fire.
The American Kennel Society has issued a useful list of pet fire safety suggestions, many of them applying to cats, too:
Prevent your Cat from Starting Fires
Remove or cover stove knobs
Child safety covers prevent cats like Newton from accidentally turning on your gas stove burners. If you don’t have covers for your knobs, you can remove them when they aren’t in use.
Extinguish open flames
Don’t leave your cat unattended around any open flames, including gas stovetops, candles, or even your fireplace.
Use flameless candles
Flameless candles are battery-powered and light a bulb instead of having an open flame. Flameless candles allow you to not worry about whether a cat’s tail might wave over the top of a candle or if they might knock it over.
Don’t use glass bowls on wood decks
A glass water bowl on a wooden deck can work like a magnifying glass to heat up and even ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Use a stainless steel or ceramic bowl on wooden decks to instead.
Keep Your Cat Safe
Keep breakaway collars with identification on cats and also microchip them. Don’t forget to keep microchip registry information up to date. In case of emergency, if your cat gets out, they will be able to get back to you if someone can identify them.
Know where your cat hides
A list of the likely hiding places will make it easier for firefighters to retrieve a cat from your home. Consider blocking access to areas that a human can’t reach so that your cat can be evacuated in an emergency.
Consider monitored smoke detectors
If you aren’t home, there’s no one to hear the smoke detector and get pets to safety. Systems that notify a monitoring company allow emergency responders to be notified when you aren’t there to call them.
Use a pet alert window sign
A decal or static cling in a prominent front window tells firefighters to look for your family members who can’t speak for themselves. For extra visibility, add a second decal at your electric or gas meter, since first responders will secure those in case of fire. Keep numbers on the decal(s) up to date as your family grows. Window clings are available free from the ASPCA.
Exchange information with a trusted neighbor
Make sure your neighbors know how many pets you have so that they can talk to firefighters, if necessary. You can even exchange keys with a neighbor and agree to help evacuate each other’s pets, as long as it is safe to do so.
A little planning can help make your four-footed family members safe in case of fire emergencies.
National Fire Protection Association, Animal-Caused House Fires
American Kennel Club, National Pet Fire Safety Day Prevention Tips to Keep Pets from Starting Home Fires