Pet owners are aware of the potential for accidents when they leave their animals home alone — but perhaps not the kind that befell a Vancouver, Wash., family earlier this year: Their new puppy ignited a burner trying to reach food that had been left on the stove, causing a fire that destroyed the house and killed the dog.
Pets and other animals inadvertently set more than 500 house fires every year in this country, according to John R. Hall Jr. of the National Fire Protection Association.
Pets especially need monitoring around holidays, when owners may be cooking or baking treats more often or when potentially flammable decorations are out. Christmas trees can topple when cats and dogs try to explore or climb them, and decorations may overload electrical outlets.
Here are ways to pet-proof a home to make these situations less likely:
• Keep the stove clear. Remove knobs or cover them if you leave the house.
• Keep fire extinguishers in rooms where fires are likely to start, like kitchens and garages.
• Place smoke detectors in every room. In kitchens, consider rate-of-rise detectors, which are triggered by rapid rises in temperature rather than smoke or steam.
• Use flameless candles.
• Thoroughly douse cigarettes in ashtrays and fires in fireplaces.
• Don’t use glass bowls to feed your pets on wooden surfaces. Sun can filter through glass and ignite wood.
• Keep leashes for pets close to the door so you or firefighters can grab animals and leave quickly.
• Keep a window cling with an updated list of the names of children and pets so firefighters can determine if anyone is missing in event of a fire.