(WAFB) - For many people, pets are important family members, and Louisiana has one of the highest fire death rates among pets in the country.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is supporting National Pet Fire Safety Day, set for July 15.
This day was started in 2009 by the American Kennel Club in order to educate pet owners about the hazards pets face in the event of a fire. The awareness campaign has grown in popularity throughout the country, where over 40,000 pets are killed each year in house fires and where more than 1,000 fires per year are caused by pets left unattended.
In addition to recognizing National Pet Fire Safety Day, the State Fire Marshal's Office is also launching an initiative to further educate pet owners about fire safety. The agency plans to meet with advocacy groups and leaders in the fire safety industry in the hopes of establishing a "best practices" approach for pet owners.
It's estimated that more than 3,000 pets die in house fires per year in Louisiana.
The State Fire Marshal's Office, along with the American Kennel Club, ADT Security Services, and the National Fire Protection Association, offer the following tips to help protect your pet:
- Because most residential fires started each year by pets being on kitchen stoves, control knobs should be removed prior to leaving the home to prevent animals from bumping into or brushing against the knobs, accidentally turning them on.
- Likewise, electric or gas heaters should be placed in locations inaccessible to pets or they should be surrounded by a fire-rated screen or barrier to prevent pets from bumping into and knocking heaters over.
- Instead of using candles in your home consider purchasing battery-powered “flameless” candles.
- Inspect electrical cords periodically for signs of damage, such as chew marks. If damaged, replace them to prevent the possibility of electrical shorting or overheating.
- Include pets in all family fire evacuation plans. Train them to come to you when called and practice evacuating the home with them in hand or at your side.
- In your plan, identify those places where your pets like to hide in order to quickly locate them and reduce the amount of time it takes to evacuate safely. However, never delay your escape or endanger yourself or family in order to rescue a pet from a burning structure.
- Maintain a “post fire” supply kit for pets to include food, water, and medication.
- When leaving the home, keep pets in areas or rooms where firefighters can easily find them.
- Place a brightly-colored window “cling” on doors or windows where pets are being kept to alert firefighters as to where they are located.
- Install and/or maintain smoke alarms by checking batteries monthly.
- Consider installing a monitored fire alarm system that can alert fire crews quickly.
- For outside pets, make sure that the place where they stay is free from trash or other flammables and is a safe distance from the main house.