When a fire began to make its way towards a mobile home in Tuscon, Arizona, it took the protective instincts of a dog to stop a tragedy in its tracks.
According to Tuscon.com, earlier this month a woman was awakened by the sound of her dog barking outside of her residence. When she investigated what the dog was barking about, she "saw the fire engulfing the carport" and quickly alerted the other members of the home.
Thanks to the dog's warnings, all members of the household escaped out the back door before the flames engulfed the home entirely.
Barrett Baker of the Tuscon Fire Department tells petMD that this family, and their dog, was lucky. If a dog is indoors during a fire, "[they] are closer to the floor and that's where the good air is during a fire as hot air and smoke rise." But, Baker estimates, even after five minutes without oxygen, brain damage could occur and the dog might not be able to react.
That's why it's essential that smoke alarms in the household are working. While pets, like the dog in this instance, can save their owners' lives, it's too big a risk to take. "Smoke alarms really give you the best chance to be awakened," Baker says, adding that "over half of all fire related deaths occur when people are sleepin, between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m."
To avoid a possible tragedy, everyone should make sure their smoke alarms are up to date. "Check your smoke alarms every month, replace the battery every year, and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years," Baker said.
In an instance in which you have escaped your home, but a pet is still inside, Baker urges that you get out and stay out of the home. "Going back in can cost the owner their life as the smoke and fire can quickly overcome them. The best thing to do is let firefighters know as soon as they get there that you have an animal trapped inside." Baker also suggests telling firefighters exactly what kind of animal they should be looking for, as well as where the pet was last seen.
Baker says that while people are the priority, they know there are other lives that are at risk whenever there's a fire. "Pets are part of the family, and we realize that."
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