July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a day to remind pet parents to be aware of ways pets can accidentally start fires, how to prevent them, and how to be prepared in the event of a home fire with pets in the dwelling. Recent data suggests that each year over 500,000 pets are affected by home fires and pets accidentally cause nearly 1,000 fires each year.

“Not many pet owners realize that their pet can actually be the cause of a devastating fire,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson.  “Simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.”

The joint efforts of The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) and ADT Security Services led to the creation of the first Pet Fire Safety Day in 2008. The goal of this annual event is to make pet owners aware of the potential fire hazards their beloved four-legged fur kids and other pets could pose in the home.

The AKC and the American Red Cross suggest the following tips for pet owners:

Prevent your pet from starting fires

  • Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cooktop is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.
  • Invest in flameless candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
  • Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck.  The sun’s rays, when filtered through the glass and water, can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

Keep your pets safe

  • Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away from Home – Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet.  When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
  • Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
  • Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Consider using monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.
  • Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets.  Make sure to update the number of pets listed.

The ASPCA also offers a Disaster Preparedness Pledge with suggestions for ways pet owners can be prepared in the event of an emergency.  If you sign the pledge, they’ll even send you a free Emergency Pet Alert sticker for the window of your home.

Pet owners can take advantage of National Pet Fire Prevention Day by discussing what the emergency plan is, deciding who will be responsible for helping a pet escape in the event of a fire or other emergency, and taking the opportunity to carry out some practice escape drills.

For more information and tips on how you and your pets can be fire or emergency ready, visit