Fire Hazards and Dangers of Hoarding
Excess clutter is a major fire hazard.
Hoarding is defined as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” Staggering amounts of items crowd the space and prevents regular use and navigation. Hoarding can lead to a serious fire risk in the home.
How Hoarding Increases Fire Risks:
- If there are combustible items in close proximity to the stove, fire potential skyrockets
- Space heaters and baseboard heaters can ignite nearby materials
- If the hoarder is also a smoker, items such as papers and fabric are easily lit
- Most importantly, exits may be hard to get to, or completely cut off by accumulated items
Why Hoarding Affects First Responders:
- Firefighters cannot effectively fight the fire, or evacuate inhabitants or animals when hindered by clutter
- First responders can become trapped, as well as hurt by piles of items that may topple over
- When hoarded items become waterlogged by firefighting efforts, their weight is dramatically increased. This can lead to structural collapse if enough items are present
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