An astounding 40,000 pets die in home fires each and every year in the United States. Many of these tragic deaths could have been prevented if the pet owners had been prepared. One caution: don’t ever depend on your dog to act as a smoke alarm or early warning system. An individual dog may indeed have done that for their owners at one time or another, but you should not depend on him.

Here’s what you must know:

Make sure you have smoke detectors on each floor of your home, plus one near each of your bedrooms. You should test those smoke detectors once every month and batteries should be replaced every year.

In addition to smoke detectors, purchase and make sure you know how to use fire extinguishers on each floor and near your kitchen, your laundry room and your garage. If you have fireplaces in your home, a fire extinguisher should be near those as well.

Make sure that broken and cracked electrical cords are replaced and do not overload outlets, using ground-fault circuit interrupters in the outlets that are near sink areas and outdoors.

If you use a portable electrical heater, never leave it unattended. Plus, always keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable.

Have a family (and dog!) fire escape plan and agree on a designated meeting place outside your house. Practice fire drills every six months and include your escape routes.

Keep your dog away from the control knobs on your stove. Dogs have jumped on stoves and have accidentally turned them on, causing a fire.

Use extreme caution with candles and never leave them burning around dogs, as they can be knocked over and cause a fire.

Place a window dog alert decal to let firefighters know you have a dog in the house.

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