The NHS summarises the problem well: "A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner. The items can be of little or no monetary value and usually result in unmanageable amounts of clutter."
Because of the amount of possessions, exit routes can become blocked, making safe evacuation more difficult. Fires can also spread much faster, especially where there are flammable items such as newspapers or cardboard.
Hoarded materials can easily catch alight if they come into contact with heat sources such as overloaded extension leads, the kitchen hob or naked flames like candles or cigarettes. Because of the amount of possessions, fires will also spread much faster.
If you care for someone who lives in home that has become hoarded, you can help them live more safely by:
There is a separate page for healthcare equipment including oxygen therapy, dynamic airflow pressure relieving mattresses and incontinence products. There's information about emollient creams here, and specialist advice to support smokers here.
We can also provide more specialist advice based on the person you care for's home and individual needs during a home fire safety visit.
They can be arranged 24/7, and we even fit free smoke alarms if the person you care for needs them. Specialist alarms can also be fitted – for example, strobe light and vibrating pad alarms for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We have a simple tool that can guide you around the home helping you spot fire risks, or we can carry out a visit ourselves.
If you are a support worker providing care there are some additional steps you must take:
It's also a good idea to get some training on how to recognise fire risks. This will help you to spot signs that may indicate the person you care for is at risk of injury from fire and what steps you can take to reduce those risks. A good start is the free online course available here.e-Learning with TEC Services Association