Ensuring that a disabled person doesn’t leave their home without care or guidance can be a major area of concern for caregivers and families. In addition, it may be necessary to ensure that access is also restricted to other areas within the home. Traditional methods of restricting access with chain locks or deadbolts are sometimes employed but preventing egress from the home with a lock can create its own safety issues in the event of a fire or other emergencies.
For these reasons employing open door alarms can be an important tool for families and caregivers of the disabled. Open door alarms vary in sophistication and function, but they all share a similar purpose – to ensure that caregivers know when restricted doors are opened, both to ensure safety and to prevent wandering.
Selecting an open door alarm
The first consideration when selecting an open door alarm is the range of the alarm. If the alarm will be used when others are in the home, a system that notifies caregivers with an audible alarm or flashing light via a short-range radio signal may be appropriate. If the disabled person will be alone in the home, an open door alarm that employs the internet to notify family members or others via a smartphone app is clearly preferable.
A second consideration is expandability. If there are multiple entryways or rooms to monitor, a single system that can monitor multiple locations and reports to a single receiver will be preferable to an ad-hoc collection of alarms and receivers.
In-home open door alarm systems
Open door alarms with audible or short-range alerts are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. A typical system consists of a sensor mounted on the door that transmits a signal to a receiver when the door is opened.
Fosmon WaveLink 51004HOM – The WaveLink is an inexpensive open door alarm for one door. It consists of a contact sensor for the door and a plug-in receiver. Once installed, the sensor detects when the door is opened and transmits a signal to the receiver, which emits an audible alarm and flashes a built-in LED. Currently, the WaveLink can be purchased online for $22.99, and different models with additional sensors can be purchased.
- Pros – The receiver has a variety of warning tones to choose from as well as volume control. Packages with additional sensors are available.
- Cons – The receivers are not portable – they must be plugged into a wall outlet to operate, which may be a limitation if a caregiver is in a different part of the home.
Safeguard Wireless Wander Door Alarm – This door alarm follows the basic template of the previous model, but substitutes a portable battery-powered receiver for the plug-in receiver it uses. That aids in portability which is useful in a large home, or if the caregiver has multiple tasks they need to perform around the house. This unit can be purchased online for as low as $33.45.
- Pros – The battery-powered receiver is portable and doesn’t have to be plugged in.
- Cons – Compared to some plug-in models, the range of this device is somewhat limited, at 100 feet. And you’ll need to be sure to keep a fresh battery in the receiver.
Remote open door alarm solutions
If you need to monitor doors or restricted areas from a distance, your best bet is to purchase a system that connects to the web and allows you to keep tabs on activity through the web. The development of smart home technology and related security devices offers up several good possibilities for this type of alarm. Here’s my favorite.
Nest Detect – Nest Detect is one portion of the Nest security system, a series of smart devices that operate in conjunction with the Nest Secure hub. Unlike simple contact or magnetic door sensors, Nest Detect not only senses when a window or door is opened, but it also has a motion detector for tracking activity in specific areas. Through Nest Secure, Detect will notify you of activity with your smartphone through the Nest App. Nest Secure alarm system starter packs, which include two motion sensors, retail for $399. Additional sensors cost $49.
- Pros – Customizable sensitivity settings for motion detection. Remote alerts with the Nest app. Easily expandable with additional sensors, cameras, and more.
- Cons – More expensive than basic alarms, requires the Nest Secure hub.
Be prepared and be safe
Thanks to rapid advances in wireless products and smart home tech, incorporating an open door alarm or a more complete monitoring system doesn’t have to be a difficult or particularly expensive proposition. And in the final analysis, adding even a basic open door alarm to prevent wandering or to monitor access to restricted areas is an excellent idea if you’re helping care for a disabled person.