Dementia and Memory Loss

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and can affect people’s memory, comprehension, and behaviours.

These factors combine to make people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia vulnerable to fire in the home.

Please read and follow our advice to help your loved ones live more safely with dementia.

Living safely with dementia

Unsure how to help someone who is living with dementia? There’s lots of advice on the Alzheimer’s Society website, including this really handy guide (opens in a new tab) about how to make their home/your home dementia friendly.

Fire safety for people with Alzheimer’s

If you or your loved one is living with dementia, fire safety in the home becomes even more important. The main things to consider are smoke alarms, escape routes, and taking the time to plan ahead in case you have an emergency.

Follow these steps to prepare your/their home

This will help you know what to do in case of a fire or other emergency.

  1. Make sure there are working smoke alarms in your home. There should be one on each floor. Remember to test them regularly so you know they work OK.

  2. Plan an escape route and think about how everyone would get out in the smoke alarm sounds. Where are your keys kept? Are any items obstructing your route?

  3. In an emergency, make sure everyone gets out and stays out. Consider how you will alert the emergency services – do you have a mobile phone charged and ready?

Dementia and cooking safety

If you live independently with dementia, you may prepare your own meals. Cooking introduces heat sources to your home and always represents a risk, so it’s important to take care while preparing food.

Here are some straightforward steps you can take to improve fire safety in the kitchen:

  • Keep the hob area clean and clear from other items.

  • If you need to leave the hob even for a moment, turn off the heat source.

  • Do not use your grill or oven for storage – this is a fire risk.

  • Avoid storing items on top of your microwave.

  • Set a timer when using the oven so you’re alerted when your food is ready.

  • Consider preparing cold meals wherever possible.

Lighting on your escape route

Dementia can cause you to become disorientated, especially under times of stress. Ensuring your home is safely lit can reduce your chances of having a fall and help you to escape more quickly in an emergency.

Here are some points to consider when it comes to lighting in your home:

  • Maintain lightbulbs to make sure they work when needed.

  • Consider keeping a torch handy in case of a power cut. Don’t use candles.

  • Placing a nightlight on the landing, stairs, or hallway can illuminate it automatically when in darkness.

  • Motion-activated outdoor lights are perfect for security but can also help you make your escape if you have a fire.

The Herbert Protocol

There is nothing more frightening or distressing than when a loved one, friend, or neighbour fails to return when they should. For people living with or caring for someone who has dementia, this could be quite common but there are things you can do to prepare for this and signing up to the Herbert Protocol is one of them.

The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme being implemented by Lancashire Constabulary in partnership with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Alzheimer’s Society, and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).

It involves carers compiling useful information which could be used by the fire service or other agencies to search for and locate a loved one in the event of them going missing.

Carers, family members and friends complete the form in advance, giving all vital details including medication required, mobile numbers and places known to visit, along with a recent photograph.

Should that person then go missing, the form can be quickly and easily used to assist the search process.

To download the form or find out more information, please visit the Lancashire Constabulary website (opens in a new tab).