Hoarding Is A Fire Hazard
If you are like most people you probably have at least one room in your house dedicated to "storage". This is a practical way of keeping items that you don't use regularly but need to keep around for one reason or another (sporting goods, seasonal decorations, keepsakes or antiques). Storing items in this manor is a healthy practice and make both financial and practical sense. However, it is important to keep storage areas clean and organized. Not only so that you can access your belongings easily, but also to prevent the area from growing out of control and to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on your items.
We all probably know someone that has a hard time throwing things away or we might even have issues with this task ourselves. No one wants to be wasteful and we definitely don’t want to have to re-purchase items that we discarded in the past. There is a big difference between keeping items for practical reasons/future use and hoarding.
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, "Hoarding disorder is 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." This inability to discard items can results in cramped living conditions. In some cases, homes are filled to capacity with clutter.
Here are some signs or symptoms the Mayo Clinic advise us to be mindful of:
- Excessively acquiring items that are not needed or for which there's no space
- Persistent difficulty throwing out or parting with your things, regardless of actual value
- Feeling a need to save these items, and being upset by the thought of discarding them
- Building up of clutter to the point where rooms become unusable
- Having a tendency toward indecisiveness, perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, and problems with planning and organizing
Hoarding items can result in some major issues. Cleanliness and general order typically decline and there are some genuine fire concerns when it come to properties that have become over crowed by hoarding.
Here are some fire safety risks brought on by hoarding, provided by FEMA:
- Personal items can crowd cooking equipment, making it unsafe to cook.
- Personal items can crowd heating equipment, putting you at risk of having a fire.
- Blocked windows and doors make it difficult for firefighters to get into the home to fight the fire and search for occupants.
- Piles of belongings make it difficult for firefighter to move through your home quickly.
- Always keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from cooking and heating equipment
- Keep doorways and windows clear for escape in case there is a fire. This will also prevent injuries from falling over excessive personal items.