You’ve seen the TV programs that show these homes in such chaos that some may wonder if people actually live this way or is some exaggerated for television? Unfortunately, hoarding is a very real problem and according to the International OCD Foundation, as many as one in every twenty people have significant hoarding issues.
Aside from the obvious quality of life factors such as the health effects of unsanitary conditions, insects, rodents (living and dead), poor air quality, trip and fall hazards, etc., there’s primarily fire danger, it is no longer just a mess, it is deadly.
Hoarding fires require more fire/life safety resources and with department cut backs, these resources may not be immediately available. First responders face greater than usual danger as they may not know of the conditions until entering. Limited pathways, blocked doorways, windows and exits, as well as well as falling items make rescue extremely difficult for responders.
These fires grow bigger and burn faster, often endangering surrounding homes and are even more destructive in an apartment or condominium type community. Piled up magazines, paper products and trash work as fuel that turns a small manageable or even preventable fire into a complete loss fire.
In January the NFPA covered the issue of hoarding in their cover story “The dangers of too much stuff”. This article discusses how first responders are teaming up with human service professionals to address the safety issues both face.
For more information on help with hoarding for yourself or someone you know, check out the following links:
Hoarding Clean Up Help: