It’s a scenario that happens too many times across the world – a caregiver or family member walks in to their elderly mother’s home only to find out that she left the stove on – again!
We all have moments of memory lapses – that’s just being human. But as your aging parent gets older, those moments of forgetfulness may increase in frequency and could cause a disastrous event.
Whether it’s a gas stove or electric stove, there are dangers in leaving it on for too long and unsupervised.
What Happens If You Forget To Turn Off The Gas Stove?
Forgetting to turn off the gas stove for some time can cause a variety of unpleasant scenarios to say the least, and we mention those just below.
But the most likely event has to do with the amount of carbon monoxide that would be released into the air in the home. As we all know, you won’t notice that you are breathing in carbon monoxide until it’s too late.
The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- General weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision
These symptoms can resemble a really bad case of the flu, so it’s easy for anyone to dismiss the idea that it may be because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Can Leaving The Stove On Kill You?
Yes – there are several ways in which leaving a stove on can kill you and any inhabitants in the house.
- if it’s a gas stove, you can suffocate to death from the carbon monoxide that gas stoves emit
- if the burner is left on and flames are present, a combustible item like an oven mitt that may be left nearby can catch on fire
- any gas appliance can develop a gas leak, which again could emit carbon monoxide into the air
- if a pot is left on the burner, as the contents of that pot dissipate and/or burn that could cause a fire
Ranges or cooktops account for three-fifths (61%) of home cooking fire incidents.National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Obviously, if you are cooking, you can leave the burner on while you are cooking and/or simmering a pot of stew or soup or tomato sauce. That ought to be fine.
But our word of caution to you is to NEVER leave a stove on unattended. In fact, the NFPA states that “Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.”
Read our article on Gas Stove Safety Tips.
How Do You Stop Leaving The Stove On?
Although you may not be able to improve your aging mother’s memory problems, the good news is that there are multiple products that you can purchase and use to help your elderly mom when she leaves her stove on.
Automatic Shut Off Devices
These devices work by turning the appliance off after a certain amount of time which you set. Some that we can recommend are:
iGuard Automatic Stove Shut Off
(for Gas and Electric stoves)
By far, the iGuard product is the best device you could purchase simply because it works so well and has so many features.
It has a built in motion detector and will shut off the gas valve or the electric stove after no motion has been detected for 5 minutes. For your peace of mind, it will send an alert to your smartphone. It also has a secret lock that allows a caregiver to lock the stove.
The upgraded version also offers gas leak detection. NOTE: you’ll need a certified plumber to install the iGuard product.
The iGuard stove products offer a slew of features such as…
- automatic shut off
- manual timer
- locks to disable the stove
- can be remotely monitored
- text alerts
- daytime activity monitor
- nighttime activity monitor
- tracks memory changes
- a daily calendar
Where To Buy An iGuard
Best Buy – this is an iGuard for electric stoves.
iGuardStove.com – buy it directly from the manufacturer.
SmartRange Stove Auto Shut Off
(for electric stoves)
This little auto shut off device monitors changes in the cooking temperature of the range and sends out a pre-alarm if it detects a fire risk.
If the alarm is not turned off by someone – then SmartRange shuts down power to the range.
You can purchase this at Home Depot by clicking here.
Simple Touch C30004 Auto Shut Off Device
(for electric stoves)
The Simple Touch C30004 is a very economical shut off device that can make any device that is plugged in to it a bit safer.
Where To Buy
You can purchase one or a package of two if you want to use it on more than one appliance in your home.
A monitoring device can just alert you that the stove is on which may suit your needs.
Wallflower Smart Plug
(for electric stoves)
This Wi-fi enabled plug can alert you via your phone that the stove has been left on and it can also connect to your Alexa device.
It doesn’t allow you to control the stove – it simply alerts you that the stove is on.
The use of safety knobs are really meant to prevent someone from using the stove in the first place.
So if your aging mother (or father) is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and the use of the stove is simply too dangerous – then installing safety knobs may be a good solution.
You can see the variety of knobs that are available here.
I will say that the most difficult part of choosing a safety knob is finding one that fits your stove. Some safety knobs fit right over your existing knobs, others replace your knobs and yet others are a component that you add to your existing knobs.
Review them and try to choose the one that you believe will fit your mom’s stove.
Additional Gas Stove Safety Devices We Recommend
In addition to the devices mentioned above, there are other additional devices that we recommend to help you make your elderly mom’s kitchen as safe as possible.
Smoke and CO Detectors
This First Alert combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector is battery powered (but you can also get a hard wired one).
But there are multiple types of smoke detectors available and ones that can work better for seniors who may be hard of hearing or have low vision problems.
A very budget friendly gas stove alarm is the Nighthawk Plug-in Carbon Monoxide and Explosive Gas Alarm. It plugs into any standard outlet and detects natural gas, propane gas, and carbon monoxide.
Fire Extinguishers and Blankets
Fire extinguishers are great but the truth is, many older adults are unable to manage them. Either they forget how to use them or they are simply too heavy and difficult to handle.
So we do recommend these Fire Extinguishing Blankets which may work better for your elderly mom.
But if a fire extinguisher would work for you, then it’s important to know what type to get. There are multiple “classes” and each one works on a different type of fire.
You can read more about the different fire extinguishers here.
I hope the information in this article is useful for you and helps you to deal with your elderly mom and her forgetfulness when it comes to leaving her stove on.
This can certainly be a dangerous situation, so I do urge you to tend to the problem as quickly as possible. For your sake and of course for your loving mother’s sake as well.