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Veterinarian Tips: Pet Fire Safety

July 11, 2017

Pass this information on to your clients so they’ll know what to do before a house fire occurs.

When firefighters respond to a house fire, they know to look for occupants, both human and animal. While their priorities are people first, then animals, then property, responders understand how important pets are to families, and they will do what they can to safely ensure the animals are rescued. Unfortunately, there are times when a family pet becomes victim to fire. Without immediate care, these animals often quickly succumb to smoke inhalation.

Specialized Equipment for Animal Smoke Inhalation

When a pet is suffering from smoke inhalation, it needs oxygen. While human masks have been tried, an animal’s face shape, with its longer snout, extra lip tissue, and hair, make using these masks ineffective. Recognizing the numbers of animals affected by fire loss, many fire departments across the United States are now equipped with resuscitation kits dedicated for use with animals. Provided within these kits are specially constructed oxygen masks that are shaped to work around the physical facial differences of animals.

Shaped to fit the animal’s face, once the mask is in place:

  • A secure seal forms
  • Oxygen delivery begins
  • Animals that are struggling to breath can be supplied oxygen through the use of a resuscitation bag
  • Animals that are not breathing or ones that have suffered further damage can have their mask connected to a more intensive support ventilation system.

These oxygen masks are available in various sizes and can be used to help animals such as:

  • Horses
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Guinea pigs
  • Snakes
  • Lizards.

Additional Pet First-Aid Supplies

In addition to the resuscitation kits used to treat against smoke inhalation, the following first-aid supplies are often used by responders to help animals who need first-aid attention for injuries resulting from falling and/or burning fire debris, such as:

  • Burn sheets
  • Bandages
  • Rinsing saline.

Responders may also carry the following equipment to help when tending to fire-injured animals:

  • Protective restraints
  • Muzzles
  • Collars and leashes
  • Blankets.

Fire Safety Steps that Could Save a Pet

To reduce the risk of losing a pet to fire, the following information and products should be shared with clients:

  • Pet Rescue Fire Safety Stickers. These stickers are available online for a nominal fee so you may choose to offer them for sale or as an incentive for clients to come to your practice. Stickers are intended to be a tool to alert firefighters to the presence of pets within the home. Advise your clients that it is very important to keep sticker information current; otherwise, valuable life-saving time may be wasted, or pets may be overlooked Stickers do the following:
    • Identify the number of and types of pets
    • Identify where the pets may be found when confined or if hiding
  • Train animals to come when called
  • Keep collars on pets and provide leashes by the door so pets can be safely removed from the building
  • Provide animals with a means to leave the building, such as a pet door that opens to the back yard
  • If animals have to be confined, place them in an area or room near the entrance where they can be easily found
  • Install monitored smoke detectors that automatically notify fire department if a fire breaks out and you are away.

Household fires not only cause loss of property, but every year, these fires take the lives of beloved family pets. Providing information to clients not only may save their pets’ lives, it will ensure your position as a helpful animal expert.

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