Keeping safe: electricity, heating and water

Advice and tips for managing electricity, heating and water at home when living with dementia. 

Electricity, heating and water

It is very important that the energy systems, utilities and appliances in your home are well-maintained.

Keep a record of who to contact if you have problems with these. This may be the energy provider – if you own your home – or your landlord or letting agent.


Keep safe by following these tips:

  • Don’t use appliances that have worn or damaged wiring,  and never put more than one appliance on one plug.
  • If you have lots of appliances and only one socket, use a strip extension lead (a long one with a line of sockets on it) instead of lots of adaptors.
  • Consider using a cable tidy, which keeps all loose cables together so that they will not cause a trip hazards.
  • It’s safer to turn appliances off at the plug before you go to bed. There are timers for plugs available so that you don’t have to remember to do this. You can also use timers on lights in hallways, for example, to ensure the area is well lit when you need it to be.
  • If you are worried about forgetting to turn off appliances, consider buying appliances that switch off automatically. This will help you to stay independent and safe.


If you have a gas or electric fire, make sure it is serviced regularly. For portable gas or electric heaters, think about fitting an extra guard, and keep them at a safe distance from furniture and curtains.

If you or those close to you have additional concerns about using gas or electrical appliances correctly, contact the gas or electricity company. You can ask them to put you on their Priority Service Register. This means you will be eligible for free regular safety checks, and will also be able to receive advice about safety measures. If you are not eligible for the Priority Service Register, speak with your utility company or landlord about other support they can provide.  

Open fires can be dangerous. Never use one without a fire guard, and make sure your chimney is swept at least once a year. If you have other ways of keeping warm, try to limit how often you use an open fire.

Never air or dry clothes near a fire, even if it is well guarded. Use electric blankets correctly and have them checked regularly.

If you smell gas

  • Turn the gas off at the meter.
  • Open doors and windows.
  • Call the gas emergency service on 0800 111 999.
  • Don’t turn electric switches on or off.
  • Don’t use naked flames.
  • Don’t smoke.


If you find you are forgetting to turn taps off, it is possible to fit taps that will stop automatically. For example, some taps will only work if you run your hands under them. Others turn off automatically after a set amount of water has flowed, or after a set time. Your local water company should be able to provide a catalogue of suitable taps.

Sensors can also be fitted on skirting boards or floors in the kitchen or bathroom. If taps have been left running and cause a flood, the system will shut off the water and raise the alarm.


Take particular care in the bathroom – remember the following tips:

  • Never take portable heaters into the bathroom.
  • Non-slip mats fitted in the bath can help to prevent accidents.
  • If the water gets very hot, it may be possible to adjust the temperature on the boiler.
  • Consider replacing taps and fittings with the style you find easiest to use, such as large handle taps clearly marked hot and cold.
  • If you’re having a bath don’t run the water too hot – run it warm or put the cold water in first. This reduces the risk of being scolded. You can buy plugs that change colour when the water is a safe temperature.
  • Pressure-activated plugs can be used to make sure the  bath will not overflow if the water is left running too long.
  • If you live alone, never lock the bathroom door.
  • If you have a walk-in shower, consider using a plastic garden chair with a non-slip mat underneath. Or ask someone to fit  a drop-down seat to the wall.
  • Always store dangerous substances, including medicines, somewhere safe.