The White Dog Army has no words to embellish the eloquent and sincere feelings that have been expressed across the blogworld . Others have said clearly and beautifully what is in our hearts. Instead, we would like our tribute to be one of increasing awareness and reminding everyone of just how fragile our control is. It is our desire that through this post, part of the legacy of can be lives saved.
The video clip above from the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology illustrates what happens when fire touches a dry tree. At five seconds, the fire extends up the tree and black smoke with searing gases streaks across the ceiling. Fresh air near the floor feeds the fire. The sofa, coffee table and the carpet ignite prior to any flame contact. Within 40 seconds "flashover" occurs - that's when an entire room erupts into flames, oxygen is depleted and dense, deadly toxic smoke engulfs the scene. The point is not the Christmas tree, it is how quickly the room fills with smoke that makes vision impossible. Imagine the disorientation for humans and pets as you try to navigate through the heat, and noise (house fires are VERY noisy) and total darkness. Panic is avoidable. 40 seconds…less than a minute FROM THE START OF THE FIRE to realize what is happening, make a plan, gather your loved ones, and get out. Try it…blindfold yourself and attempt to save yourself and your loved ones…it is nearly impossible without the heat and noise and fear. Imagine the real thing.
Here are some things you can do right now, don’t put it off, to increase your chances.
· In a window on EVERY SIDE and at every level of your house place an outward facing decal or note alerting firefighters that there are pets inside; include the number of pets. Make the Pet Rescue Stickers obvious, your pets’ lives are at stake. Make sure the information is accurate. There is no sense to risk someone’s life to save a pet that no longer lives with you.
· Know where your pet’s comfort zones are (where they go when they are scared or sick).
- Let a neighbor know about each family member that occupies your home including your pets. Tell them where they are and where they have a tendency to hide when afraid. I’m sure they won’t mind, especially when you return the favor. Better yet, give them a nicely written sheet with the info so they won’t have to remember at a time of crisis.
- For each of your pets, make a flier with a photo and description. Keep them in your glove box or somewhere unconnected to the house. It is possible in the panic and chaos of the fire that your pets that get out might run away in terror. The fliers provide instant information to get people search for the runner.
· Have training drills so your pet learns to come to you WITHOUT QUESTION when you give the command. (it is hard but can be done…and must be practiced frequently).
- Have an emergency escape plan for the entire family and practice that plan periodically. Everyone can use a refresher course now and then. Give everyone a specific duty and make sure that includes someone to be responsible for the family pet, however, no human life should be put in danger. Only 23% have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. A well thought-out plan can ensure your family can escape quickly and safely. Don’t think elaborate escape plans. Think caveman solutions. Grab the lamp and smash out the window toss your pet through the window and keep moving. Forget leashes and gathering more than one pet at a time. He stands a better chance surviving the fall than if you spend precious moments struggling with a panicked pet.
- Don’t forget that an animal that is in a crate can’t make a run for it. His fate would definitely be in a hero’s hands. Make sure the location and number of crates is well known and is clearly marked on Rescue Stickers: X Number of Crated Animals Unable to Escape in This Room.
- Listen to your pet. If your pet is acting strange in the middle of the night or during the day, get up and investigate. Your pet counts on you to take care of him/her, let them return the favor.
- Don’t stop for anything. There is nothing more precious than your life.
The White Dog Army grieves with the rest of our community over the losses of The Pittie Pack. Our heart breaks knowing that heroic efforts were made to lead all to safety. We pray that no one ever has to live through the hellishness our friends in Houston have experienced. And ask the Universe to grant comfort to this family during this catastrophic time.