COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s National Pet Fire Safety Day and according to West Metro Fire Rescue (WMFR), more than 500,000 pets across the country are affected by structure fires every year. WMFR says the most important part of fire safety is prevention.

About 1,000 fires are started by the pets themselves, says WMFR. Prevention is the key to keeping your home and pet safe in an emergency.

Pets are often curious and can get into trouble if left alone around burning candles, cooking appliances or even a fire in your fireplace.

To keep your pet from starting a fire:

  • Put covers on stove knobs or remove them altogether. Pets drawn by the smell of food may nudge the knob just enough to ignite a burner.
  • Do not leave candles unattended: Extinguish all open flames when you leave the room so they are not tipped over by a tail or a paw.
  • Always use a fireplace screen
  • Pet-proof your home: Go through each room and eliminate any loose wires that could be a tempting chew toy.
  • Secure young pets: Keep puppies or kittens confined away from potential fire hazards- in crates or behind baby gates.

If your pets are home alone:

  • Secure pets near an exit if they are crated or keep them confined to the first floor when you’re away so that firefighters can reach them faster.
  • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date information.
  • Consider getting a monitored smoke alarm. If your pets are home alone, they won’t be able to get out without help. A monitored smoke alarm alerts a monitoring center whenever the alarm is triggered and firefighters are dispatched to the address.

WMFR says to know where your pet goes to escape or hide in the case of a fire. This may be in a closet, under a bed or under the couch. If you can’t find them quickly, YOU need to get out first states WMFR. Leave the house and repeatedly call for your pet from a safe distance. When firefighters arrive, let them know your pet is still inside and where you think they may be hiding. 

Have an escape plan ready to protect your loved ones and four-legged friends. Take the time to practice and when you do, practice with your pets. Train them to come to you when you call. 

In the event of an emergency, seconds count, states WMFR.