How to protect pets in house fires.

A Horry County firefighter removes a frightened dog from a fire at 505 Garden Drive on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Owner Andrew Lee said he noticed the fire in his garage and got his family safely out of the house .  Firefighters found his dog

A Horry County firefighter removes a frightened dog from a fire at 505 Garden Drive on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Owner Andrew Lee said he noticed the fire in his garage and got his family safely out of the house . Firefighters found his dog “Lily” hiding under the sofa and also got her out of the house safely.

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July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a day to raise awareness of potential household fire hazards for your four-legged friends.

According to American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 40,000 pets in the United States die each year in residential fires, primarily due to smoke inhalation, and 500,000 pets are affected in total. In some cases, pets can be the cause of these fires.

Here’s how often pets cause home fires and what you can do to keep them safe in an emergency.

How often do pets start house fires?

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that there are 790 house fires started by the animals every year. However, this statistic includes non-pet animals. This includes chipmunks and squirrels that gnaw on electrical wires.

Although house fires caused by pets are rare, they could happen to pet owners who tend to leave open flames around their homes, said Julia Conner, human education specialist at the unit. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Protection and Control.

“If you’re the type of person who likes to leave candles on coffee tables or side tables that cats and dogs have access to, there’s always a chance they’ll get knocked over,” Conner said. “And it could start a fire.”

How to protect your pets from household fires

If your home catches fire, it’s important to make sure your pet is in a place where you have easy access to them, Conner said.

“You want to keep things close to them like a leash so you can walk out of the house with them,” she added. “If you have to let them out of the house, that’s a better option than fumbling around trying to find a leash and put it on them, especially if they’re terrified and panicking.”

The American Kennel Club offers these additional tips on how to protect your pets from household fires:

  • Extinguish open flames: Do not leave your pet unattended near an open flame, such as a fireplace or candle, and be sure to extinguish any flames before leaving your home.

  • Pet-proof your home: Make sure areas where fires can easily start, such as stoves and loose wires, are inaccessible to your pet.

  • Secure young animals: Keep puppies and kittens away from potential fire hazards.

  • Keep animals near entrances: When home alone, leave your pets in rooms near entrances so firefighters can find them easily.

  • Practice escape routes: Keep collars and leashes handy in case you need to get out of your house quickly in the event of a fire.

  • Use monitored smoke detectors: These are connected to a monitoring center and can provide an additional layer of security beyond battery operated smoke detectors.

  • Use a pet alert window: Record the number of animals you own and attach the film to a front window to save rescuers time when locating your animals.

Evan Moore is a duty reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He grew up in Denver, North Carolina, where he previously worked as a reporter for the Denver Citizen, and graduated from UNC Charlotte.

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