07 Mar Low cost options to protect your Special Needs loved one
Creating a more safe and secure environment for your Special Needs loved one…..whether at home or on the road
Caring for a loved one with special needs is not an easy task, but it can be a whole lot less stressful when you have the right tools to keep them safe. The solutions we’re recommending come from years of trial and error with our son, Kevin, coupled with a few frightening incidents.
High tech isn’t always the necessary answer when it comes to security. And the good news is these are very effective, simple to use, and won’t dent your budget.
And that’s what we’re going to break down for you here today.
Nothing is more frightening than when a loved one wanders away unexpectedly
Since Kevin’s brain injury, we’ve gone through some frightening incidents where he has left the house without us knowing. He really didn’t know why he wanted to wander out or where he wanted to go. He would just wander away on a whim. A few times in the middle of the day; a couple times in the middle of the night; once in freezing temperatures. You can imagine our ensuing panic when we discovered he was missing. No details necessary but suffice to say we eventually found him unharmed. A couple times we were fortunate to hear him walk out the door and catch him before he wandered too far.
The first time it happened, we immediately purchased and installed an alarm system to secure our main entry doors. I don’t recall the alarm system we purchased but it was fairly basic and not too costly, and it seemed to serve the purpose. But I’m ashamed to report there were times we got a little careless and didn’t always activate the alarm, especially during the day. I think we were lulled into complacency during periods of Kevin’s “good” stretches of predictable behavior where we didn’t think he would wander. Big mistake. We have since realized we can NEVER let down our guard. Yes, I know it seems like common sense, but we learned the hard way.
We split time between a home in Michigan (where we were born and raised) and a home in Florida (nearby our four grandchildren). This obviously requires security systems and detail two-fold. We often drive instead of flying for our trips between Michigan and Florida. While Kevin is usually ok flying, going through TSA and boarding can sometimes be stressful for him, and it puts us on pins and needles fearing a vocal outburst from him in a crowd of people. We unfortunately now live in a day and age where air travel itself is stressful enough for even the mainstream travel population, let alone someone with special needs.
Thankfully, Kevin is usually comfortable with being in a car for the 2-day drive. But we completely overlooked the security concerns introduced by spending a night in a hotel during our 2-day drive. Despite using suitcases and other obstacles to stack in front of the hotel room door, we had a couple incidents where he slipped out of the room while we were dead asleep during the night. Again, no detail necessary but suffice to say this was extremely frightening for us!
Low cost alarms proved to be a valuable option
Through a little research, we found the simplest and most cost-effective solution. These little alarms are an amazing lifesaver. Travel Door Alarm You can hang them on any door (home, hotel room, camper, boat, etc). Kevin hasn’t quite been able to figure out that the two metal toggle switches need to be pinched together to prevent them from making the loud alarm squeal. But if you have a child or adult that might be a bit clever on how to circumvent the alarm, these can be placed out of reach or sight by placing them in between the top of the door and frame. We’ve also used them on windows and sliding patio doors, especially sliding screens on the patio doors during warm, summer days. These things cost a little over $11 each, and I usually keep a handful of these on hand wherever I go.
In addition, we’ve discovered these convenient and very economical alarms ($20 for 10), which simply can be stuck to your doors and windows and armed one at a time or however you desire. Wireless Sensors for Door & Window alarms . We have these installed everywhere throughout both homes and they have become an amazing sense of comfort for us, coupled with the Travel Door Alarm . In a future blog we’ll review some of the higher end, more sophisticated alarm systems. But for performance, simplicity, extremely low cost (and low tech) and gained peace of mind and comfort, you can’t go wrong with these. But regardless, as I said earlier, NEVER let your guard down!! We’ve learned the hard way.
Personal safety devices good for many but not effective for everyone
As for personal safety and location detecting devices that are GPS enabled such as Apple watches and others, we are still on the hunt for some technology that works best for us and Kevin. For starters, he doesn’t like wearing a watch or wristband and he sometimes get irritated and removes it after a short while. Ideally, it would be great if he carried a smart phone. That would probably be the most sensible GPS detector to use but he easily misplaces it or has been known to accidentally damage it. And besides, if he wanders away unexpectedly, he surely wouldn’t think to bring his phone with him. So, in short, smart phones and wearable devices are not ideal for Kevin.
On April 30, 2021, Apple AirTags were introduced. While Apple strongly suggests these devices are meant solely to track items, not people or pets, we tried these with Kevin with some degree of success. These are not GPS devices, meaning, they do not track in real-time and use Bluetooth, along with Apple’s vast network of devices for tracking. Selling for $29 each, we sometimes put one in his pants pocket, although there have been times he removes items from his pocket without us knowing.
We will continue to use Apple AirTags as part of our security and safety arsenal but do not see this as a primary tool. More on this product in a future blog as Apple continues to evolve their privacy controls and functionality.
Expect more innovation and new solutions but privacy aspects remain a concern
While KEVADVOTECH is always in search of the newest technologies to help solve the often-complex challenges of the special needs community, sometimes we find solutions that are low cost and low tech but extremely useful. Future advancement in technology will present some new options for protection. But as in everything in life, there are sometimes trade-offs. The big one (as previously mentioned) is privacy rights and laws. Some argue that knowing every aspect of your loved one’s daily life is intrusive and a violation of privacy rights. Me personally, accounting for Kevin’s safety and whereabouts at all times is paramount to anything else.
And there are concerns that “bad actors” can exploit gaps in these technologies for nefarious purposes. These are challenges that technology companies will (and must) continue to examine and plug any potential loopholes.
We hope you found this helpful. Please tell us your thoughts either directly (CONTACT US) or on social at facebook……