This project was something I’ve never planned on making, and it honestly has never even popped in my mind. Until last month. There was a fire at an apartment complex near a family member’s home, and as I read the Facebook post from the First Responders, they mentioned that the family cat was rescued safely. The family was home at the time, so they were able to tell the firefighters they had a cat, but what if they weren’t? If firefighters showed up at my house tomorrow and no one was home, they would have no clue that we had two cats hiding under a bed. And depending on where my dog was hiding, they may not know about him either.
That thought scared me to death, and I stayed up late that night thinking about all the what-if’s. Sure, a neighbor could tell them that we have pets, but what if they weren’t home either? And how can I possibly expect a firefighter to trudge through our house scouring for an unknown amount of possible animals? I can’t, because that’s not realistic.
But then a lightbulb went off in my head and I ran (literally ran, like a full-on dufus) upstairs to my craft closet and rolled out my Cricut to get to work.
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How To Make Pet Alert Stickers For Firefighters
What You Need:
- Cricut Cutting Machine (I used the Maker, but the Explore family works, too)
- Design Space Access
- Exterior Permanent Vinyl (white shows up best)
- Transfer Tape
- Cutting and Weeding Tools
**You can also make this project without a Cricut cutting machine by purchasing store-bought or Etsy-made animal decals. Whether you have a cutting machine or not, you can, and definitely should, still make these decals for your home.
Create Pet Silhouette Images
I started out by opening up the Design Space software for my Cricut Maker and searching for dog and cat silhouettes. I didn’t need anything too fancy or elaborate, just a simple symbol that would be universally understood. Once I found those, I adjusted their size to be large enough to notice, and grouped and attached it all into place. Then I adjusted the cut settings to make two copies, one for each entryway point of our house.
I ended up adding some text and emergency symbols, too, but that isn’t necessary. If you have a Cricut Machine and access to Design Space, you’re welcome to snag my exact design here and just edit the animals as needed. You can also find it by searching Lela Burris in Design Space. 🙂
**If you don’t have a Cricut or other cutting machine, you can buy vinyl pet stickers on Etsy, and sometimes even Walmart in the auto section in the stick family packs.
Cut And Prep The Images
I put exterior permanent vinyl on my cutting mats so ensure that they would hold up to the elements. Regular vinyl will work, too, but the exterior kind is made to withstand rain and sun, and will resist peeling and fading.
Once the images were cut, I weeded and prepped them with transfer paper, just like any other vinyl project.
If you don’t have a cutting machine and choose to buy the vinyl stickers instead, follow the prep instructions included with your purchase.
Choose The Right Windows
This is probably the most important step of all. Choosing the right windows will make or break your whole project. It’s time to play soothsayer and look into the future. Go outside and stand in front of your house. Pretend you’re a firefighter. How would you try to get in? Would you use the front door if you could? Find a window near the front door that would be easily seen upon entry to your porch.
Next, go to the back of the house (or side if that’s where your secondary entry is) and analyze it, too. How would you attempt to get inside if your job was to rescue animals from a burning building? Find a window (or the glass on the actual door if applicable) and choose that one.
Keep in mind that these pet alert decals are for firefighters when you aren’t home, so your doors will likely be locked. If you have heavy duty doors, emergency responders would probably break a window instead, so it’s important to put these on your windows that are easily accessible. I chose the front window on my porch and the back window on my deck, because even if the firefighters were unable to get in those places, they would at least go to those spots to check for entry points first.
Clean The Windows Properly
This isn’t the time to break out the store-bought window cleaner. It contains lots of extra chemicals that cause a “film” to stay on your windows, which can alter the adherence of the vinyl, especially when the window is experiencing big temperature changes. Use my streak/film-free window cleaner recipe here or spray rubbing alcohol onto the window and swipe a squeegie across it.
Allow the window to dry completely (it will happen really fast if you use my recipe or straight alcohol) and make sure the temperature outside isn’t super hot or super cold. The best time to do this is in the afternoon an hour or so after lunchtime.
Adhere The Vinyl In A Noticeable Spot
I chose the bottom corner nearest the entry door for both of my windows. It seems like the most noticeable spot.
I also chose to put them above the screen (in the top half of the windows) so the screen wouldn’t “mask” them. I wanted them to have nothing in the way of someone seeing them. This was my personal preference, and not something you have to do unless you want to. Yes, it does throw off the “look” of my “porch appeal” but I’ll gladly give up a perfectly clean look to potentially save my fur babies.
Just pull off the transfer tape, position them in place, smooth with a flat edge of an applicator or gift card, and carefully pull away the transfer tape. That’s it!
Feel Better When You’re Away From Home
I can honestly say, the day after I did this, I felt so much safer when I left for work. The fire at that apartment complex that was in no way connected to me at all really bothered me, even though it was in a completely different town. All I could think about was “What if they weren’t home? Would the cat have been saved?” And I really think the answer would have been no.
These vinyl stickers won’t guarantee that the firefighters will see them, and they won’t guarantee that my fur babies will be rescued, but it drastically raises their chances of coming out safely. Firefighters don’t know what they don’t know, and sometimes they get into a house at all, even knowing about the pets, but at least I know I did what I can do to help my animals be noticed.