How Hoarding Can Increase Fire Risks
What is Hoarding?
Hoarding is a condition where a person has persistent difficulty discarding a large amount of personal possessions. These objects will cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress. Hoarding can prevent typical use of space and limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It could potentially put the individual and others at risk of causing fires, falling, poor sanitation and other health concerns.
Increased Fire Risks
- Cooking risks: if items are too close to the oven or stove, this can make cooking unsafe and start a fire.
- Space heaters: when there are space heaters being used in the winter, they can tip or be too close to objects than can burn.
- Electrical wiring: may be old or worn and not obvious with all the clutter. If there are rodents that are getting into the home, they can also chew on this wire and cause damage which could start a fire.
- Candles: open flames can be very dangerous in a home with excess clutter.
How Hoarding Impacts First Responders
- Blocked exits: firefighters can get trapped if there are too many items blocking exit.
- Excess weight: of the stored items may happen when water is added in trying to put out the fire. This may lead to the building collapsing.
- Fighting fires is very risky in a hoarding home. It is hard to enter the home to provide medical care. The clutter can slow down the search and rescue of people and pets.
Help Reduce the Risk of Fire Injury
When talking to a person who hoards, focus on their safety rather than the clutter. Try to be empathetic and understand.
If you know someone in this situation, try to help them make a home safety plan so in the event of a fire, they can make a safe escape. Also try to install working smoke alarms in the home and test them once a month.
You can also try to reach out to their community fire department and let them know of your concerns. They may be able to refer you to someone that can help.
For more information on this topic you can visit the ADAA website.
SERVPRO of Orland Park has experience in cleaning hoarding homes. Hoarding is a specialty cleaning situation and many times involves some sort of bio-hazard situation. PPE is a must in these incidents and should not be completed by family members or friends. Call us today for more information 708-532-3377