Preventing Fires Associated With Gas Cooking Appliances Among Older Adults

Period of Performance: 09/30/2006 - 03/31/2007

$100K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Homesense Enterprises, LLC
Akron, OH 44306
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): "Aging in Place" is the goal of America's aging population. Yet fires caused by unattended cooking are the leading cause of fire-related injuries and deaths among older adults. Additionally, this concern for the safety of older adults often causes caregivers and family members to remove older adults from their households where they live independently, and place them in institutions or in the extended family's household. This upheaval can have a detrimental impact on the older adult's sense of self-esteem and quality of life, as well as causing a significant financial burden. To improve the health and well being of older Americans, and enable them to enjoy their independence, an innovative safety device will be designed and fabricated that meets the need for a proactive gas cooking appliance shut-off device that prevents fires from occurring rather than simply warning occupants that a fire has started. During Phase I the research effort product operational requirements will be identified and a preliminary product specification established. Product concepts will be developed and a trade-off analysis will identify the best concepts. Finally in Phase I, laboratory research models will be built and tested, which will validate the feasibility of the designs. During the Phase II research effort, a research prototype system will be designed and fabricated. Gas cooking appliance retrofit procedures will be developed, and the prototype will be tested on representative gas cooking appliances. Marketplace demand for an existing product for electric cooking appliances that has been developed and sold by HomeSense Enterprises has been positive. However many prospective customers have expressed a need for a gas-cooking version. The product that will be developed under this program has an exceptionally high probability for commercialization success. As the population ages, and older adults become more concerned with their quality of life in their older years, public health costs in America are spiraling out of control. Living independently is not only more desirable for many older adults, but also more beneficial financially. The costs of maintaining an older adult in their home with intervention services is 20% to 25% that of a supervised environment. Successful completion of this project will allow over 8 million aging adults that use gas-cooking appliances access to a novel product that helps allow them to maintain their independence more safely in their own household environment, and enables them to be part of the emerging senior lifestyle concept of "Aging in Place".