It doesn’t take much to create a wildfire: a cigarette, a campfire not properly extinguished or even a lightning strike. No matter the cause, you need to act quickly to protect you and your pets. You may only have minutes to evacuate from these fast-spreading flames. Getting yourself and loved ones, including cats and dogs, to safety is the top priority. In this article we will share with you 12 ways to keep pets safe from the dangers of wildfires:
1. Stay Informed on the Status of the Fires in Your Area
Sign up for reverse 911, if it is available in your area. Emergency officials will call or text you if your property falls into a voluntary or mandatory evacuation area. Pay attention to your local emergency broadcast network or for messages from the Emergency Alert System which can broadcast information by radio or television during emergencies.
2. Create a Mutual Pet-Buddy System with a Neighbor
Provide a set of house keys to a trusted neighbor who is willing to rescue your pets in case a wildfire strikes when you are not at home. And promise to do the same for their pets.
3. Have Fire-Dousing Tools Within Reach
Keep a fire extinguisher in your home and learn how to use it properly. Keep a garden hose that can water down all sides and roof of your home.
4. Keep Emergency Supplies Accessible
Create three pet disaster preparedness bags: one stored at all times in your vehicle; one near the front door and one near the backdoor. If a wildfire flares up quickly, you can access at least one or more of these bags with your pets. These bags should contain a few days’ worth of food and pet medication as well as inexpensive slip leads you can use to restrain your dog if she becomes stressed or fearful by the smoke-filled sky.
5. Pack Items to Treat Fire-Related Injuries
Make sure your pet first aid kit in your vehicle and pet disaster bag contains a pet-safe eye wash, burn ointment, antiseptic wipes and socks (or doggy booties) so you can wash out soot and debris from your pet’s eyes and treat paws that may step on embers or shattered glass during the evacuation.
6. Practice Evacuating with Your Pets
Rehearse mock evacuations with your dogs, cats and other pets. Make it a fun game, but practice getting them into crates or being leashed and harnessed and ushered inside your vehicle quickly. Reward them with treats once you are also inside your vehicle. During an emergency, pets will be scared and may not follow commands. In cases like this, the safest way to catch a terrified cat or dog is to wrap them in a thick bath towel. Never attempt to hold them in your arms or scruff a pet by the back of their neck. This can injure the pet or result in scratches or bites to yourself.
7. Foster Teamwork
Designate someone in the household to be in charge of grabbing the disaster kits and someone else in charge of gathering the pets.
8. Plan Escape Routes
Identify different escape routes in your area you can take to avoid the path of the wildfire in advance. Confirm in advance with family and friends who live outside the fire zone that you can bring your pets to stay with them.
9. Keep an Eye On Your Pet’s Health During an Evacuation
Monitor your pet’s health before, during and after the evacuation. Winds can blow the smoke, ash and fire-hot embers from wildfires into your neighborhood. Smoke contains gases that can irritate a pet’s eyes, causing them to squint, swell or become red. Inhaled smoke can cause your pet to cough, wheeze, develop nasal discharge and have shortness of breath. They are at risk for thermal burns to their coat, skin and respiratory tract by the floating embers that fall on the ground. Limit your pet’s access to outdoors and always clean their paws and coats to prevent them from ingesting the smoke-filled toxins when they groom.
10. Be Ready to Drive Off Quickly When Evacuating
If a wildfire is moving toward your neighborhood, back your vehicle into your garage or driveway for a quick escape with your pets.
11. Dress for Fire Safety
If you are ordered to evacuate, select an escape route as far as possible from the fire and wear long-sleeved shirt and pants. Do not wear open-toed shoes or sandals. Stay as calm as possible because your pets read – and react – to your moods. Make sure your pets are always wearing their collars, ID tags and leashes in the event that you are separated from them and firefighters need to rescue your pet.
12. Notify Others of Yours and Your Pet’s Safety
In the event you are ordered to evacuate make sure to notify others of your safety. This will reduce confusion regarding whether you made it out safely and the potential for filing missing person reports mistakenly.
Finally, consider training. First aid or disaster response training can help not only you and your pets, but others as well! Also, make sure your pets are protected with Pets Best pet insurance. Should your pet require medical care, a pet insurance policy can help you afford the best care available.