When your house is on fire, the last thing that you want to worry about is finding and wrangling your pets together to get out. However, this is often a reality, since many pets will run and hide or otherwise make it very difficult for pet parents to get hold of them. While there is no way to be sure to guarantee safe extraction from your home in case of a fire, you can certainly take steps to help protect your pet. These preparations can be equally useful for a fire, flood, tornado, any emergency where evacuating your home may be necessary. Here is what you can do!
Prioritize obedience training
Your dog wants nothing more than to please you. This includes obedience training! If you teach your dog commands like “come” or “car,” they’ll learn that doing these commands gets them a treat. This way, you can use these commands in an emergency and know that your dog will listen as best they can, improving the chances of cooperation in an emergency. While you can’t expect them to listen to the command exactly as they normally would, knowing that they’re familiar with the command and the action that they’re supposed to do will certainly help more than if they are not even slightly familiar with it.
Do practices and drills
Just like you would with kids, you should do practices and drills. Have human and furry family members join in so that everyone can prepare and test how a fire evacuation would happen. Doing dry runs help prepare everyone (yourself included) for the real thing. It also is going to iron out kinks in the plan, including dealing with blocked exits, and creating a muster point!
Try to do one a month or more. For your pet, this will be like a part of their obedience training, so don’t forget to treat them after it’s done. The better they learn what to do when they hear the command of “fire” or something similar, the more likely they will listen to it when it matters most. And that’s what this is all about, after all!
Both during a fire drill, as well as the real thing if it happens, you want to stay as calm as possible and focus on making sure that you get everyone out of the house safe and sound. Always make sure that our other household members know to stay as calm as possible, too. Quite often, it can be the panic of pet parents that makes pets run and hide somewhere. So, staying as calm as possible will help you make sure that you can get them out to safety.
It’s understandable that you’re going to be a little flustered and scared yourself, but do what you can to help minimize any true panic!
Consider pet insurance that covers emergencies
Dogs can get injured in fires, but they can’t go to the emergency room. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve got some insurance or something similar to protect your pets in case of a medical emergency. From burns to having them checked for smoke inhalation, it all matters so that you know that your pet is okay and will recover fully.
As soon as you can, book them in for an emergency appointment at your vet and let them know that they were in a fire. Your vet will know what to look for and how to help you see that your dog is going to be okay.
Prepare a go-bag for your dog with your own family go-bags
Humans often prepare go-bags stored with neighbors or family members in case of a fire. These can include clothing, medications, cash, and more. Make sure that you have one for your dog, too. Include in it a leash, food, medications, and anything more that they need to get through a couple of days. If you can, throw in a few toys that they won’t miss but can enjoy after an emergency. It can help give them something to relieve their anxiety in a new stressful situation after evacuation.
Arrange temporary care
If you are suddenly homeless from a fire, you can sometimes bring your pet with you when you go to stay somewhere. But just in case you can’t, you’ll want to focus on the idea of having them housed somewhere safe temporarily until you can figure out what you want to do about long-term solutions.
This could be at a friend’s house, but it could also be at a dog boarding facility if you need something more structured and professional. It’s all about making sure that you can put your pet somewhere as stable as possible for their benefit.
Make sure your pet has a chip or an ID tag
Often, pets may run away when they are scared. You’ll want to have them microchipped and/or wearing an ID tag that will help them get returned if someone picks them up on the run. Pets can sometimes get lost during the chaos of evacuation, and some never make it back home simply because they can’t find their way, and don’t have info on them about contacting their owners! Having them properly tagged will help minimize chances of losing your pet!
If they do get away from you, don’t forget to check back at your house site for several days and weeks after the fire. Sometimes pets will return home when things calm down, only to be shocked to discover that their family is no longer there and that their home doesn’t seem to be right. This can further their confusion and lead to a pet that may not return or not know where to return.
Emergencies happen no matter how prepared you are for them. Do what you can to keep your furry friends fully protected, by focusing on proper training and preparation for them, just like you would with your human household members. It’s not as hard as you’d think to make sure that everyone gets the best protection that they deserve! If a disaster does strike, it can be easier knowing that you’ve gotten everyone prepared for it, so that everyone can respond as simply and as safely as possible!