Dangers of Hoarder Homes
Hoarding is a condition when a person has persistent difficulty discarding personal possessions. A significant amount of possessions overwhelm the home preventing normal use of the space or even making it unusable. Hoarding brings distress and emotional health concerns.
Hoarding can increase fire risk in many ways:
- Electrical wiring may be old, worn, or exposed from the weight of piles. Rodents could chew on wiring. Damage wires poses a fire threat.
- Cooking is unsafe if flammable items are close to the stove or oven.
- Heating units may be too close to items or on unstable surfaces that could cause the unit to tip onto a pile which could cause a fire.
- Open flames from smoking or candles with excess clutter are very dangerous.
- Obstructed pathways and exits may prevent escape from a fire.
Also, hoarding could not only impact the homeowner, but, also the first responders to a house fire.
- A cluttered home would obstruct firefighters movement throughout the home.
- Firefighters could injure themselves from falling piles or even be trapped by blocked exits.
- The weight of the stored items, especially if water is added to extinguish the fire, could cause collapse.
- Clutter could impede the search and rescue of people and pets and make it difficult to provide medical care.
When talking to a person who hoards, focus on safety not the clutter. Be empathetic, stress the importance of clear pathways and exits for a safer home.
SERVPRO of Eastern Niagara County has experience with cleaning hoarding homes. Hoarding is a specialty situation and in some cases involves some sort of biohazard situation. Personal protection equipment is a must in these situations and should not be completed by a family member or friend. If a family member is struggling and you need assistance, please call our office at (716) 694-7776. We will be happy to assist you in making your home a safe place.