Do you have a disaster preparedness plan in case you have a house fire? In any emergency situation, having a plan can reduce chaos and increase the chances of safely removing loved ones (including pets) from harm. Recently, in Wichita, Kansas, firefighters were able to rescue and save two dogs that were trapped in a mobile home that caught on fire. One of the main reasons why they were able to get these dogs breathing properly was because they had the right equipment.
You might assume that in a situation like this that your pets would flee the home and seek safety outdoors, but this is not always the case. The homeowner’s sister explained that the dogs became too afraid to even run out of the doggie door so they hid in a back room. Fortunately, Invisible Fence donated forty-two new pet oxygen masks to the fire department, and the firefighters were able to administer oxygen to the dogs and save their lives.
One way you can help increase a pet’s chances of surviving a house fire is to contact your local fire department and find out if they have these specialized masks. If they don’t, gather your friends, family or neighbors together and donate some. At PetsAmerica.org, each set of three masks is $95, but the price drops to $85 per set when you purchase four or more sets.
If you end up in a situation where your pet is suffering from smoke inhalation, there are some first aid steps you can follow to increase his/her chance of survival. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of smoke inhalation, which are abnormal or fast breathing, labored breathing, singed hair, coughing, mouth or nose discharge, eye discharge and bright red gums due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The first step would be to remove the pet from the smoke. Then check the ABCs of CPR and administer CPR as necessary. If the pet is in shock, it’s important to make the animal comfortable as soon as possible to avoid cardiac arrest. You can do this by performing CPR, wrapping them in a warm blanket and elevating their hind end with a blanket or pillow (avoid this part if you suspect the animal has a broken back). Also, be sure to control any bleeding if the pet has injuries.
Even if you’re able to get the animal stabilized, it’s important to still have a veterinarian assess its health. The following consequences can occur after smoke inhalation: fluid accumulation in the lungs or chest cavity, pneumonia, swelling of the mouth or throat or ulcers on the surface of the eye.
Other preventative measures include keeping pet carriers or crates accessible and informing family of how to deal with these emergencies. Assigning certain family members to specific duties can be beneficial too, but remember to also have a backup plan. Even if you don’t realize it, your pet is an important part of your life. It would be a shame to lose your loyal companion simply because precautionary measures were not in place.