STATE – It seems to be a tragic harbinger of the colder weather months that this time of year Associated Humane Societies begins to either take in more victims of fire or hear of their demise.
It is estimated that about 500,000 pets are affected by house fires each year. This time of year household fire hazards increase dramatically with heaters, candles, fireplaces and wood stoves and holiday lights. Statistics show that about 20 percent of all house fires start between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., when residents are sleeping.
“To lose a family pet under any circumstances is devastating. To lose a pet in a fire is beyond words,” said Roseann Trezza, Executive Director, Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park. “Firefighters will attempt to save family pets, but they need to have an idea of where they are in the house and if there are pets at all.”
Associated Humane Societies offers pet owners special decals that, when prominently placed in front and back doors or windows, will alert fire or rescue personnel of the type and number of animals inside the home or apartment in case of emergency. A decal is especially important where there are several dwellings, like condominiums, apartments or townhouses so firefighters know which living quarters contain pets.
The 4-inch square decals are designed in standard fire department colors of red and yellow, with black type. These will affix to almost any surface, and have space available to write information in permanent marker or ballpoint pen. Cost is $2 for two decals and can be purchased by mailing cash or check with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to PET DECALS, c/o Society, 124 Evergreen Ave., Newark, NJ 07114.
And to help pet owners safeguard their pets and homes from fire and the damage it can cause, Associated Humane Societies offers the following tips:
- Be sure house numbers are clearly visible. In apartments, many animals have perished because firefighters did not know which houses or apartments had pets.
- Install Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. It’s the single most important way to alert you and your loved ones of a hazardous condition. Place them on each level of your house. If you cannot afford one, contact your local fire department who will sometimes donate the devices.
- Keep burning candles out of the reach of pets and children and never leave burning candles unattended. A knocked over candle can ignite an entire house in a matter of moments. Consider opting for the many beautiful flameless candles now available.
- Check for loose wires and watch out for wire-chewers. Some curious cats, dogs and even rabbits will chew on electrical wires. Protect the wires or make them inaccessible.
- Make sure holiday lights and other electric appliances are turned off and unplugged before leaving the house.
- Keep the clothes dryer lint-free and take extra precautions when drying foam-backed rugs, athletic shoes and other non-cloth items.
- If you leave the house without your pets, keep them in areas or rooms that are near entrances where firefighters will find them.
- Keep collars and leashes where you can easily grab them if you need to evacuate your home.
- Make sure your dog or cat is wearing proper identification or is microchipped. In case he or she runs out the door your chances are much better of having your pet safely returned to you. Microchipping is safe, painless and a great way to identify missing pets. However, the information on the chip is only obtainable and useful if you remember to register with the microchip agency.
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