Maintaining the autonomy of our loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease is a priority that must not be done at the expense of their safety. As the condition progresses, forgetfulness and confusion can increase safety concerns, such as the risk of fire. This is of great concern to those around them. Eugeria suggests 5 preventive measures to reduce the risk of fire while preserving your loved one’s autonomy.
To ensure a safe environment for your loved one, choose prevention:
- Cigarettes: Encourage your loved one to quit smoking. It is best to remove matches, lighters, ashtrays and cigarettes from their sight. Keeping these items out of sight helps to avoid thinking about them. However, if it is too difficult to quit, smoking outside is recommended. Avoid smoking in bed, on the couch or near oxygen tanks and make sure cigarettes are out before going to sleep.
- Candles: Candles present an increased risk of fire; they are easy to forget or knock over. It is best not to use them. However, if candles are used under supervision, make sure they are placed in a glass container.
- Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors allow you to react quickly at the first sign of fire. Fire departments recommend having a detector on every floor, especially near bedrooms. You should test the detectors monthly, change the batteries twice a year (at daylight saving time) and replace detectors that are more than 10 years old. If your loved one has hearing problems, consider getting a detector with an indicator light, in addition to the hearing alarm. Some detectors can be connected to the central alarm system.
- Cooking: In the early stages of the disease, some seniors continue to cook without too much difficulty. Make sure that your loved one is able to use cooking appliances properly; a metal dish in the microwave, combustibles near the stove, or overly loose clothing when cooking can cause injury or even burns. The biggest concern for family and friends is forgetting to turn on the stove and the risk of fire. Fortunately, technology is helping to alleviate this concern; smart plugs and sockets make it possible to be alerted and even turn off appliances. The Wallflower plug is a remote alert and monitoring system. Simply connect the power plug of the stove to the Wallflower socket. Thanks to the internet connection, you can monitor the use of appliances remotely at all times. After the stove has been turned on for a certain amount of time, the Wallflower socket will alert you on your cell phone. You can then contact your loved one to check if everything is okay and remind him or them to turn off the stove.
Wallflower – Smart Stove Plug – $199.00
Fireavert Smart Plugs are connected to the smoke detector; when they hear the smoke detector, they automatically turn off the stove or small appliances connected to it. By shutting off the heat source, an electrical fire is prevented from spreading.
FireAvert plug for stove, $195.95 FireAvert plug for small appliances, $195.95
- Be Prepared: Facing a fire is unsettling for everyone, but it is even more unsettling when you have dementia. In the early stages of the disease, when your loved one is still independent and living at home, it is important to be well prepared, even if it means repeating the instructions to be followed in case of fire. Establish a clear evacuation plan with your loved one by indicating a meeting point outside. Make sure the evacuation paths are clear at all times and in all seasons; clear, well-lit stairs will allow your loved one to get out quickly and safely. Make sure their phone has emergency call buttons and that they are able to use it. A phone with pictures for quick dialing will make it easier to call in a moment of panic.
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Inform a trustworthy neighbor that in the event of an emergency or fire, your loved one may need assistance. Be sure to leave your contact information.
These few preventive measures and technological accessories will make up for the occasional forgetfulness that can lead to a fire. You will thus be able to set up a safe environment and preserve your loved one’s autonomy.
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