Jeff Feinman, VMD, CVH, a certified veterinary homeopath and integrated veterinary practitioner with a private practice in Weston, Connecticut. He is president of the nonprofit Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy Foundation. CertifiedVetHomeopath.com
Include pets in your fire-safety planning. When thinking about evacuating your home, decide who will be responsible for finding pets and getting them to safety—keep in mind that they may be even more frightened by flames, smoke and chaos than you will be. Include your pets in fire-safety drills when practicing the family’s escape plan. Be sure all pets are trained to come when you call—that is crucial in a fire or any other emergency.
Buy pet items that are nonflammable or fire-retardant—for example, pet clothing. Buy only flame-retardant pet beds. For cats, be sure to get nonflammable or flame-retardant scratching posts and kitty condos.
To help firefighters find your pets, put a pet-alert sticker or window cling on a front door or window—these are available at pet stores and online. Write down the number of pets inside your home. Also, keep pets near entrances when away from home so that firefighters can easily find them.
It also is important to prevent pets from starting fires. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires are started by pets every year. Some basic training is important to avoid this. Dogs large enough to stand on their hind legs and reach countertops must be taught not to do this—they could put their paws on a stovetop and accidentally turn on the burners. Cats should be taught not to jump on counters and cooktops.
Control of open flames is crucial. Never leave pets unattended around a fireplace fire or other open flame, such as a candle. Consider not using traditional candles at all—get flameless ones that use bulbs instead of lit wicks. Be especially careful with young pets, who are often supercurious about their environment. Consider putting them in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas when you are away from home. When you are home, be aware of where your pets are at all times so that they do not get into mischief.