Oxygen masks could save lives

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 27, 2015

When house fires strike, they go fast and wipe out worldly possessions in just minutes, and the last thing anyone wants to hear about or encounter is losing a family member in a house fire.

For many animal lovers, of which the L-O-U area has many, they will gladly give up everything in their home as long as their pets can get out safely. One option to protect your pets while you’re at work or away from the house are little decals that can be picked up at stores and through entities like the HSUS and ASPCA that are affixed to windows or doors and tell firefighters how many pets you have inside and ask them to save them.

We all read stories online about how a firefighter saved a family pet and there are a lot of stories of family pets alerting their humans there is a fire in the house and everyone getting out safely.

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But what about if your dog got scared, hid between a bed and the wall and a firefighter had a hard time locating her? What if she breathed in so much smoke she needed CPR and there wasn’t time to get to the vet?

I do not know if Oxford and Lafayette County’s firefighters are trained on pet CPR. I took a course and got trained, but if my house goes up in flames and I’m not home, my dogs will need rescuing and I won’t be there to give them CPR.

An idea for our firefighters is for them to have pet CPR kits. You’ve likely seen them on the national news when a firefighter rescues a pet and they have a pet-sized oxygen mask. They make them in sizes that can accommodate anything from a parakeet to a ferret or a mastiff.

I want to encourage our firefighters on the city and county level as well as the city and county governing bodies to look into purchasing these pet oxygen masks. They are not terribly expensive and would be a wonderful tool to have on every fire truck. One provider sells them between $80 and $90 each. That’s a small expense in the grand theme of things. Perhaps pet lovers across the L-O-U might want to buy one for the fire station closest to them just in case.

Think about what a difference this tool could make when you’re responding to a house fire of an elderly resident whose cat is his or her only family member left. Or for the couple who can’t have children but have their Golden Retriever. Or for the autistic child who needs a service dog but went outside to play without that service dog for just a few minutes.

We’re a progressively growing community, let’s be progressive on this one too.

Stephanie Rebman is editor of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact her at stephanie.rebman@oxfordeagle.com.