Cooking causes 172,900 household fires per year in the United States alone. Older adults are at greater risk of dying in house fires. Indeed, fires are the sixth most common cause of death for seniors in U.S.
If you care for a senior citizen and are worried about their safety in the kitchen, you’ll be glad to hear that there are several simple things you can do to make cooking a safer activity for those with dementia.
These stove locks help reduce the risk of a kitchen fire for seniors. Some are ‘smart’ locks that will shut off the stove if a fire is detected, while others prevent senior accidentally activating the stove while leaning against the front of the stove or reaching for items at the rear of the stove.
The Best Stove Locks and Stove Shut-Off Devices
Consider installing a set of stove locks for seniors with dementia to give yourself peace of mind that your older loved ones are safe in their kitchens.
This is our top pick for stove safety, being a smart lock that will shut off gas or electric stoves if a fire is detected. The lock has a 30-second delay on it, which is enough time for someone to clear any smoke if they’ve accidentally burned some sausages, but still fast enough to stop a fire getting worse in the event that they’ve left the stove on and went out to run some errands.
The idea behind the FireAvert stove lock is simple. If something does catch fire on the stove, this lock will turn off the heat, letting the fire burn itself out without getting worse.
This is an affordable, easy to use option for people who want peace of mind that if something does go wrong, the power to the stove will be cut off in a timely fashion without the senior needing to take action themselves.
These simple stove locks are designed to prevent the stove from being accidentally turned on if someone leans on it or accidentally “plays with it”. They’re primarily aimed at parents who want to child-proof their home but they may also be useful for seniors who find that they lean against the stove while moving around the kitchen.
Stove Stoppaz are simple to operate, assuming that the person cooking has sufficient dexterity to manipulate them. The downside of these is that they only offer protection from accidental stove operation. They do not ensure that the stove is deactivated in the event of a fire.
The Knob Stopper is another good choice for stopping the accidental operation of the stove. Unlike the Stove Stoppaz, which requires some manual dexterity to operate, the Knob Stopper uses magnets to hold the ‘blockers’ in place so it’s easier to operate and may be good for seniors who do not have strong grips.
Again, this simply prevents the stove from being activated by accident, it doesn’t help with the issue of someone falling asleep while they’re cooking, or forgetting to turn the stove off when they’re done. As a low-tech, simple solution, though, it’s a great starting point for kitchen safety for seniors with dementia.
This safety outlet is designed to automatically shut off the stove (or other appliance plugged in to the outlet) after 30 minutes. It’s easy to use, simply requiring a push of a button to turn on the appliance. This auto shut-off switch can be used with small stoves (up to 1000W), and allows them to run for 30 minutes before they will automatically switch off.
The features of the unit are limited. It can only operate for 30 minutes at a time, and won’t power a full-sized, high-powered stove. However, it is simple to install. All the user has to do is plug it in to an outlet and then plug the appliance into the shut-off unit. It’s also inexpensive. If you’re saving up for a more sophisticated safety appliance, this can offer a temporary fix.
This smart device allows the owner to monitor the status of the plug/appliance remotely using a mobile app. The monitor connects to the household WiFi connection and allows the user to check whether the device is pulling power. This means they can check whether the stove has been turned off, even if they’re no longer at home.
It’s important to note that the monitor can only send out alerts, it does not allow the user to control the appliance remotely. This is a frustrating oversight in the eyes of many reviewers, especially given the comparatively high price.
For those who simply want the peace of mind that they can double-check that the oven is off while they’re out of the house, however, this can be a good choice.
Keeping the Kitchen Safe for Seniors
Making sure that the stove doesn’t get accidentally turned on, or left on, is an important part of kitchen safety but it’s not the only thing that seniors and their loved ones should be thinking about.
Make sure the kitchen is properly equipped with a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. If the stove is gas-powered, or the property has gas supply for any other reason, consider getting a detector that can pick up gas leaks as well.
Every kitchen should also have a fire extinguisher, and ideally a fire blanket and a well-stocked first aid kit as well. Talk to the seniors in your life and impress upon them the importance of having these things and keeping them in a good state of repair, replacing anything that gets used immediately. It is common for fire extinguishers to be supplied in rented accommodations, but they are something that home owners frequently forget about.
With proper care, thought and implementing stove safety tips, you can keep the kitchen a safe place for the senior citizen in your care, allowing them to retain their independence and stay in the community, avoiding the need to move to assisted living accommodations.