Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service - Improving fire safety at home for people with dementia

Fire safety at home is an important issue for everyone and particularly for people living with dementia.

Fires at home are a particular risk for people with dementia and getting the right help could make a big difference to how long someone is able to remain independent.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service recognise that some people - including older people and people with dementia - need additional support, as well as conducting home fire safety checks and providing smoke alarms we can also put people in touch with agencies that can offer additional support.

Make sure that gas detectors and smoke alarms are fitted, even if the person with dementia is living alone and is unable to respond to the alarm, it is possible that someone will pass the house and be able to take appropriate action. Alarms can also be set up to activate external warning devices that alert others to the situation.

Fire becomes more of a risk as dementia progresses for several reasons, hazards include leaving gas or electric heaters near curtains and furniture or using them to dry clothes. Forgetfulness and confusion about how to use equipment such as microwaves can also cause problems.

Electric blankets can be dangerous for people with impaired memory, as overheating can cause a fire. If you use one, check that it has safety features, such as automatically switching off at a certain temperature. People who are incontinent should not use electric blankets.

People with dementia may find it more difficult to escape or understand the situation if there is a fire.

It is a good idea to keep a list of useful phone numbers in a strategic location, emergency services can then quickly contact a family member or carer if needed.

The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme adopted by Cumbria Constabulary and other police services across the country, it encourages carers to compile useful information which could be used if an adult who has care and support needs goes missing. Carers, family members and friends or professionals can complete the form in advance.

The form records all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located and a photograph, which will help locate the person if they ever go missing.

If your family member or friend goes missing, the form can be easily sent or handed to the police to reduce the time taken in gathering this information.

The form can be downloaded or printed from the Cumbria Constabulary website or pick one up from your local police station.

For further details on keeping safe with Dementia please contact Alzheimer's Society.