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Pets – a priority in your fire safety plans

Worrying about all the terrible things that can happen around the house is a sure-fire way to give yourself an ulcer, but preparing for the worst is extremely important to ensure a happy ending should the unthinkable occur. The Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI) urges you to ensure you are geared to react quickly should a fire break out within your home, and implores you further to consider your pets in this plan because pets are just as vulnerable to injury and death from flames and smoke inhalation.

Consider the below 7 pointers to safeguard your home:

  1. Actions such as jumping onto stoves or turning appliances on are the number 1 cause of fires started by pets. As such impeccable training is suggested to try and prevent animals jumping up where they should not be. Do not tempt pets by leaving tasty foods out when you’re not able to keep an eye on them. If you’re able to protect or remove stove knobs while out / away, do so.

  2. In a country such as South Africa we often find ourselves in the dark due to power outages – be extra observant in these moments, as pets can knock over the candles or gas lamps that are in use to light the home. Better yet, opt for flame free options, such as solar power lamps or flameless candles.

  3. Always ensure open flames, braais etc. are extinguished properly.

  4. In winter especially take note of pets around heaters and fires, to ensure they do not interfere or lie too close, which could lead to a burn for themselves or start a full blown fire.

  5. Glass water dishes on wooden floors can magnify sun rays and start a fire – rather use bowls with alternative materials especially if placed on flammable surfaces in the sun.

  6. Always be conscious of fire hazards around the house and resolve them before they become an issue.

  7. Ensuring your home is pest-free will also limit your risk of fires, as rodents have been known to chew through wires resulting in a fire.

In the event of a fire, consider your pets in your evacuation plans. Consider the below to give your pets the best chance of survival:

  1. If at all possible, give pets an escape route, such as a pet door. For larger pets that need to be confined, choose their confined areas close to exit doors and keep spare keys for these doors so that access can be made as easily as possible.

  2. Smoke detectors are great for fire-prone areas and to give warning as early as possible.

  3. Note your pets’ favourite nap areas and hiding places, in case they make use of these in the event of a fire.

  4. Have stickers made to notify first responders to the presence (and type and number) of pets on the property. Remember to keep these up to date.

  5. Collars and leads kept near a door may assist first responders at the scene to lead pets that may be waiting at the door, to safety.

  6. If your dogs stay outside, ensure their shelter is clear and away from flammable substances, including bushes that may become dry in winter.

  7. Always have your pets microchipped so that they can be identified should they flee the scene.


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