SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day to bring awareness to keeping animals safe during fires and how they can accidentally start house fires. 

The American Red Cross recommends thinking of your pets in emergency planning, by incorporating them in a family evacuation planning and adding their supplies to any disaster preparedness kit.  

But if you can’t evacuate with them immediately, Champaign Fire Marshal Tyler Funk urges owners to not go back inside for their pets; instead he suggests waiting for the fire department and alerting them you have an animal in need.

“They can do a pretty rapid search of the home and probably locate the pet and get them out more safely than you could by going back in without any breathing apparatus,” Funk said. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 40,000 pets die each year from fires, mostly from smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. Fire departments carry special oxygen masks designed for animals.

Funk says in his experience, the department finds most pets scared and hiding from the flames, but end up surviving with no injuries. 

Unattended pets can also cause house fires, as the National Fire Protection Association says about 1,000 fires are started by pets left alone. One of the most common causes is when a pet gets curious about a burner’s knob on the stove. 

“We’ve had a couple of fires where the family is gone and it’s hard to prove whether the pet [turned on the stove] or it was left on by the occupant,” Funk said. 

Funk recommends keeping your pet in rooms without access from fire hazards like stoves, space heaters, or candles.