Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Preventing Fires and Protecting Your Furbabies!

One thing most of my readers probably don’t know about me is I am absolutely terrified of fires. This is strange; because I love to burn candles, incense, make fires in the fire place, camp fires, etc. But the route of my fear goes back to a sunny Sunday morning when I was in the first grade, and my parents received a phone call that our horse barn had burned to the ground, and my beloved black lab mix, Rex, had been killed in the blaze. The fire had started when sparks from a car with the engine on blew about 20 feet into the barn, and a small fire started. Immediately the fire department was called, but by the time they arrived the fire was substantially larger, and unfortunately the fire fighters decided to run their hoses two miles to a river to put out the blaze, rather than running them 200 feet to our full swimming pool. By the time they were fighting the fire with water the entire 200 year old barn was engulfed in flames.

At the time of the fire my family had just moved to South Carolina, but our farm in New Jersey had not yet sold, and we were waiting to move the rest of our animals down after we had built a secure fence and settled into our new home. The remaining farm animals (barn cats, chickens, peacocks, pigs and dogs) were under the care of our barn manager, and we were arranging transportation for the animals. Our farm in New Jersey was the classic case of urban sprawl, once farmland, all the area surrounding our property was now subdivisions, and our property was the only remaining farm on the road. The farm was intriguing to neighbors, and we were always more than happy to show neighborhood children our chickens, or invite people over to see a newborn foal, but there was a set of mischievous teenagers who enjoyed cutting holes in our fencing, allowing our dogs to escape. The solution to the problem was to keep the dogs locked in horse stalls when they were not supervised, and the firefighters somehow saw all of the other dogs, but missed Rex.

The reason I’m telling you this is fires can start suddenly, and often times with little reason. I never would have imagined an engine would spark, and our barn would burn to the ground, but it did.

I recently read an AP article about a family who left their dog in their yard at their home in Washington State one sunny day. The dog owners made sure to leave a glass water bowl out for the dog, but the combination of the sun and the glass bowl created a magnifying glass effect and focused sunlight directly onto the wood deck of the home. The deck caught fire, and soon the blaze had spread and charred the entire back of the home. Luckily, the homeowner’s neighbors saw the smoke and flames, and were able to call for help in the homeowner’s absence. The family dog was saved, but the homes damage was estimated at $215,000.

When owning pets it is important to take precautions to ensure their happiness and safety, but also our own. Be careful with glass water bowls, be careful if you set fans out for your dogs, and in the event of an emergency have both human and pet emergency kits packed and ready to go.

If you own pets I recommend obtaining a window decal that says “In the event of an emergence save our pets.” The ASPCA is giving away these window decals as part of their FREE Pet Safety Pack that alert rescue crews that pets are inside your home. In the event of an emergency this sticker conveys valuable information to emergency personnel. In this economy you can’t beat the FREE price, so go ahead and get one by visiting!

I can’t help but wonder if we had had one of these stickers, and the firefighters had known how many dogs we owned; perhaps Rex would still be here today.

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