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Fire Preparedness for You and Your Pet

Being prepared for a fire can mean the difference between life and death for you and your pets. Captain Gary Menard of City of Decatur Fire and Rescue recently joined us for our virtual “Fire Preparedness for You and Your Pet” event. We learned so much that we wanted to share it here! To get you and your pet prepared, check out these great tips and full video. 

Captain Menard’s Fire Safety Tips

Causes of Home Fires and Ways to Prevent Them

  • The biggest causes of home fires are cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. Since fires can start easily when someone is cooking, make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Make sure you know how to use it.
  • Electrical accidents often happen when cords are damaged. So, if your cords (lamp, phone charger, etc.) are the slightest bit damaged, throw them out and replace them.
  • Our pets sometimes create hazards by accidentally turning knobs on a stove, knocking over candles or chewing wires. Make sure that all of these things are kept out of your pet’s reach.
  • Avoid using a glass water bowl for your pet’s water outside. A glass bowl of water can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires on wooden decks. Use a metal or plastic water bowl instead, to be safe.

How to Prepare for a Fire

  • An inexpensive way to save your life is by using smoke detectors which can warn you of a fire early. This gives you extra time to get everyone out. Put one in every bedroom and on every level of the home. Test them monthly to make sure they work. To remember changing them, do so during daylight savings time when you set your clocks back each year.
  • If you can, purchase a smoke detector that notifies you or 911 when it goes off. So, if you’re not home, the fire can still be caught early. When people are away, a fire in their home will go unnoticed until it’s visible to neighbors which is too late.
  • Create a home fire plan by sketching a floor plan of your home and marking two ways out of each room. Include windows and doors in the plan. Then, decide on a place for all family members to meet outside. If you have children, be sure to practice your plan.
  • Place Pet Alert stickers on your windows and doors to let firefighters know the number and species of pets in your home. Many fire stations offer these stickers for free, or you can get them at our shelters for a donation.
  • To provide firefighters with detailed information about each member of your household (including pets), fill out a profile on This information is provided to first responders should an emergency occur.
  • Finally, make sure your pets are microchipped and wearing ID. So, if they run out when firefighters enter the house, you’ll be able to find them.

During a Fire

  • Get out, stay out and call 911! Try to grab your animals, but if you can’t get them quickly on your way out, wait for the firefighters to get them. Never go back inside during a fire.
  • When in a closed room, gently touch the closed door or handle. Warm doors and smoke are a sign of danger on the other side, so use your second way out from your fire plan. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the doors closed, place a wet towel at the base of the door to buy more time and call 911. Then, open a window and wave a brightly-colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
  • NEVER try to go through flames.

By following Captain Menard’s tips above, you may be able to prevent a fire and will be more prepared to get your pets and other family members out safely if a fire does occur. For more information on fire preparation, please visit the National Fire Protection Association.

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