Pet Fire Day

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COLUMBIA - Saturday is Pet Fire Safety Day. The National Fire Protection Association said more than 500,000 pets are affected by house fires each year, and pets are responsible for accidentally starting 1,000 of those fires.

The Humane Society of Missouri recommends having smoke alarms on every level of a home and never leaving pets around an open flame.

Boone County Fire Protection Captain Martina Pounds said most of the fires started by pets are from candles.

“One of the things that we see a lot of with fires is pets knocking off candles from tables and several of those end tables,” Pounds said. “When you have candles, don't leave the room. Watch your pets and put them in a different room.”

Pounds said making a plan for pets in an emergency is essential.

“That makes it a lot easier if there’s an emergency going on,” she said. “It really doesn't matter what type of emergency. Just make them part of your plan: this is what we will do with the dog, this is what we will do with the cats.”

Pounds said the Boone County Fire Protection District teaches children in schools how to make this plan.

Some animals are kenneled at night and some are not, Pounds said, so owners should take this into account when making their plans for emergency. She recommends keeping kennels in a good path towards an exit, as well as considering who walks past the kennel on the way out of the house and how quickly that person can open the door.

Boone County Joint Communications dispatchers usually ask 911 callers if a pet is inside a burning house, Pounds said, but owners can also place a sticker close to the front door or window to help first responders know a pet may be inside.

Another option is to provide a pet's information into the Smart 911 app. The Humane Society recommends making sure pets have ID tags, collars and microchips.