Fireplaces are a wonderful way to warm up in the winter. Even our pets love snuggling up in front of the hearth on a cold day. While it’s fine for our pets to enjoy the fireplace, you should take some precautions to make sure your pet is safe. Whether you have a natural gas fireplace or wood-burning stove, these pet safety tips can help keep your pet from getting injured.
Train your pet to stay away
Like little kids, pets may not know that fires and fireplaces can be harmful, especially when they’re very young. Their curiosity can get the best of them, and they may venture too close to the heat and get burned or singed. They can also get startled or hurt by hot embers, which can pop out of the fireplace unexpectedly.
To help keep your pet safe, train your furry friend to stay back from the area directly in front of the fireplace. This is a good idea even if you have a fireplace safety gate. These coverings may not keep all of the hot embers safely inside. Also, the metal and glass that make up the fireplace safety gate can heat up and cause painful burns if your pet touches or rubs up against it.
Supervise your pet by the fire
One of the most important pet fire safety tips is always to supervise your pet when you have a fire going. Even pets trained to stay away from the front of the fireplace can forget the rules and decide to get closer for a little extra warmth.
If you’re entertaining guests over a roaring fire, let them know your pet isn’t allowed to go near the fireplace. Also, explain what they should do if your pet gets too close—either shoo your furry friend away or get your attention so you can take care of the matter.
Use a fireplace screen or glass door
While a protective metal screen or glass door can’t keep your pet completely safe, you should still have one in place. An open fireplace can present a much bigger danger if your pet decides to check out the fire up close.
A covering can also keep some of those popping embers inside. Plus, wood in a fireplace can shift around as it burns. A safe covering can help ensure it doesn’t fall out onto the hearth where it can hurt your pet.
Consider a pet gate
If your pet is ultra curious about the fireplace and doesn’t like to stay a safe distance away, consider using a baby or pet gate. You can set up the gate to block the doorway into the room while still letting the heat from the fireplace circulate. You can also purchase configurable pet gates and set them up as a boundary around the fireplace area.
Keep the hearth area clear
You should never put anything flammable near the fireplace. An ember could snap out and set it on fire. If you leave a pet blanket or something cozy nearby, you could also encourage your pet to settle into a dangerous spot.
In fact, the entire front area of your fireplace should always remain clear. This means making sure your pet doesn’t drop any dog toys or knock something near the hearth. Things left close to the fireplace can melt and cause a mess or start a fire in your home.
Have a fire extinguisher handy
No matter how hard you try to keep your fireplace safe, there is always a risk of fire. For instance, wood can shift and knock down a covering or an ember can fly out unexpectedly. Always keep a working fire extinguisher on hand to help put out a fire quickly and safely.
You should also make sure you know how to use a fire extinguisher correctly. Read any instructions that came with it carefully, and keep the “PASS” method in mind. With this procedure, you should stand 6 to 8 feet from the fire and then follow these steps:
- Pull the pin out.
- Aim low pointing the nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever below the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent.
- Sweep from side-to-side repeatedly continuing to aim low until the fire is out.
If the fire reignites, you can repeat the process, but be very careful. If the fire gets out of control or you have safety concerns, call 911 immediately to get help from the experts at your local fire department.
Store fire tools and accessories safely
Fireplace tools, like pokers, tongs, spades, and fireplace brooms, can hurt your pet if they step on them or knock them over. Also, be careful if you use a stand to hold the fireplace tools. Make sure it’s sturdy and stable so it will be less likely to fall or get knocked over by your pet.
Other fireplace accessories, such as matches, lighters, and starter chips, can also be harmful to your pet if chewed on or swallowed. Keep these stored safely away from the fireplace. If your pet does ingest something that might be poisonous, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
Avoid roughhousing near the fire
Horseplay near the fire can be as dangerous as playing with fire. You just never know what might happen. Your pet could stumble into the fireplace covering and get burned, or either one of you could knock into it and cause a fire in your home.
Watch the mantle decorations
Draping your mantle with evergreen branches, holly, garland, or lights may look festive, but it can create a hazard for your pet. Your pet might be tempted to play with the a bit of decoration and pull the whole thing down into the fire.
If you have a cat, you should be careful about putting any kind of decorations or home accents on your mantle. Cats can jump up on the mantle (even when we think it’s too high for them!) knocking things over and breaking them.
Inspect your fireplace
Have your fireplace inspected regularly to help keep it safe for you and your pet. Set up an appointment before the start of the winter season to make sure it’s clean, safe, and ready to go.
Check the flue and damper
When you light a fire, be sure the flue and damper are open for everybody’s safety. If they’re closed, you could fill your house with smoke and carbon monoxide. Speaking of, you should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Check to see that batteries are working, and the devices are operating properly.
Many of these fireplace pet safety tips hold true for outside grills and fire pits. Always keep an eye on your pet near any kind of fire. If your pet does get burned or otherwise hurt, an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help cover the costs of care. See what you need to know about pet insurance.