We often hear the expression « in the safety of our own home », but did you know that almost 3.2 % of all deaths actually result from accidents in the home? After health and road injuries, they are the third main cause of death. Unfortunately, « our insignificance is often the cause of our safety »: people are generally clueless about how to prevent common household accidents.
Thankfully, when humans are incapable of preventing accidents, technology can take over. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a big role in addressing some of these issues. Here’s how…
« Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. » (source : agesafeamerica)
55% of fall injuries occur inside the home.
We have seen at the CES this year the rise of wearable devices for elderly people.
Products such as necklaces, bracelets, shoe insoles, and even pajamas now have sensors embedded in them, making it easier for families and caregivers to remotely track key health metrics such as heart rate, blood pressure or behavioral changes.
Some remote monitoring technologies function as emergency alert systems, others focus on tracking medication intake or improving adherence among seniors. However, most of the existing solutions on the market are able to detect a fall only after it has happened. The SMART BELT, rewarded by an innovation award at this year’s CES, is a wearable device that can prevent falls for the elderly. It detects the user's symptoms and therefore the likelihood of having a fall in advance by accurately analyzing the walking pattern. It then informs the user of the risk of having a fall via notifications from the connected app.
CarePredict Tempo™ is another wearable for seniors rewarded with an innovation award at this year’s CES. It predicts and prevents possible declining health by observing changes in the daily activities —eating, walking, sleeping, cooking, showering, and toileting— and behavior patterns. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are then used to predict possible malnutrition, urinary tract infections, depression, mild cognitive impairments, and increased risk of falls in seniors.
Drowning in bathtubs or swimming pools is the number one cause of traumatic death for children under the age of 5 and the third cause of home based deaths. Here as well, technology has made significant progress even though nothing can effectively replace the habit of watching over children.
New types of fences have been designed with tracking devices that send alerts as soon as an intrusion in the pool is detected. Electronic alarms that are worn on the child's wrist or around the neck are also appearing on the market. They emit sounds upon contact with water or when movement in the pool water is detected. Some can also determine whether the child is in distress while in the water.
Fire caused by smoking, faulty heating equipment, cooking etc. are the cause of many injuries and fatalities. Consequently smoke detectors have become mandatory in many countries. They provide peace of mind and can help save lives in an emergency, especially at night.
Nowadays there are numerous options when it comes to Smart Smoke Detectors: instead of the traditional high pitch alarm, detectors can now offer color and voice alerts and smartphone or email notifications. They can differentiate between fast and slow-burning fires and also detect dangers such as carbon monoxide, or a low battery. They can even turn on your home's smart lights to help with evacuation. Cost-effective, and non-invasive systems like 'Wi-Fyre', developed by Eurofyre —one of Saft’s clients—are universally compatible with new or existing installations.
Fire Extinguishers are also becoming increasingly smart. Electronic monitoring systems like en-Gauge, use a combination of technologies to ensure the extinguisher is always in fire-fighting shape. Proximity detectors are often embedded to make sure the way is clear and send an alert if there’s a prolonged blockage. They are equipped with a digital pressure gauge that sends an alert whenever the pressure drops below the optimum level and they can also trigger the alarm system if picked up by someone.
Smart Locks can be very useful, not only for house doors but also for cabinets, to stop your children from grabbing medicines, cleaning products and other dangerous objects they shouldn’t touch.
Many options are being offered nowadays: digital door locks with multiple digital accessibility options: pin, card, phone… and even face and voice recognition! Systems now allow you to remotely control and monitor your door lock from anywhere in the world with your smart phone or create custom access codes for specific members of your families or renters. Something that will certainly reassure parents!
Safety is a common denominator across all aspects of life and it should never be taken lightly. We hope that this article has given you a few ideas of steps you could take to prevent home accidents and preserve your family’s health and well-being. Because as Edward Coke would say: « Precaution is better than cure. »
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