Wildfire season is in full force, and safety experts are encouraging people to keep their pets in mind in the event of evacuation.
Faith Berry, associate project manager with the National Fire Protection Association, said it's important to have a plan of action ready not only for family members, but also for dogs, cats, horses or any other pets at risk. She said preparing a pet evacuation kit could be an important tool for saving an animal's life.
"That would include information about your vets, information about special diet requirements for your pet, as well as harnesses, food and phone numbers written down in a notebook because sometimes cell phones don't work," Berry said.
She said pet owners also should make plans with neighbors. They could be helpful for getting pets out of harm's way if a wildfire moves in while owners are at work or can't get back to their house.
Preparation for wildfires is becoming more important. An Environmental Protection Agency study in 2016 found the frequency and size of wildfires have been steadily on the rise since 1983.
"It does appear that there are more frequent wildfires and also that they're increasing in intensity and severity," Berry said. "So, it is good to have a plan in place and to look at what your pet needs."
Berry said it's critical to sweep leaves and needles off of decks, clean gutters and keep at least the first five feet around homes clear to reduce the risk of fire. Her group's website - nfpa.org - has more helpful tips on how to protect homes from fires and keep animals safe.