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Eliminate Hoarding Hazards Today

5/8/2019 (Permalink)

Hoarding Can Create Hazardous Situations

Spring cleaning is pretty much the overall theme for the month of May no matter where you live.  Even many of the recognized holidays during the course of the month follow that vein… 

May 10th – Clean Up Your Room Day

May 17th – National Pack Rat Day

May 18th – No Dirty Dishes Day

While all of these days are meant to put a chord of fun into the prospect of Spring cleaning, there can be a real need to do so.

No… it’s not just because you have company coming over to your home or camp soon… although that IS a good reason.

Sometimes, our family members can fall into the unfortunate habit of hoarding.  For people who are true, compulsive hoarders, the need to preserve items in their home can often be an emotionally and physically destructive behavior.

Hazards of Hoarding

Hoarders are people who have a compulsive need to stockpile all kinds of belongings.  Hoarding is often associated with depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to name a few.

Very often, family members think that the hoarder is ‘going through a phase.’  Unfortunately, nothing can be further from the truth. 

Hoarders not only have a need to never throw away items, but they continue to collect more.  Before family members can begin to address the issue, things have often progressed quickly into dangerous conditions.

Because conditions inside the home of a hoarder can deteriorate quickly, it can become a hazardous situation not only for the hoarder, but for neighbors, family members and visitors.

The dangers of hoarding include:

Health & Physical Hazards

Increased Risk of Falls – In most hoarding situations, items are thrown about haphazardly.  If there is any organization to the clutter, it is merely to allow for small, barely passable walkways through the debris.  Obviously, this situation increases the chances for falls… which inevitable raises the risk for injury.

Poor Air Quality & Mold – Large amounts of clutter create a lack of proper ventilation.  Increased amounts of dust, decaying organic materials and high humidity are the perfect storm for bad air and mold.  These air quality problems lead to medical issues including allergies, chronic coughing, shortness of breath and worst.

Pest Infestations – A hoarder’s home usually has decomposing food throughout which makes it a haven for critters of all kinds.  Ants, cockroaches, flies and rats are just the beginning of the new cohabitants.  Once the home is infested, these creatures can carry any number of diseases along with them.

Fire & Structural Damage

Fire is one of the greatest risks in the home of a hoarder.  Most of the items accumulated are flammable materials such as paper and clothing.

There are a number of reasons for the increased risk of fire beyond the amount of materials inside the home.  The proximity of these flammable items to heat sources such has stoves, incandescent bulbs, heaters, etc. helps set the stage.  Add to this, that critter infestations can mean that wiring becomes a chew toy… enter another fire hazard.

The fire hazards don’t stop there.  If a fire does start, because of all the materials in a small space, fire and smoke will spread very quickly.

Clutter results in blocked means of egress.  This is dangerous not only for the occupants, but the first responders arriving to help battle the blaze and save lives.

Other forms of structural damage to the home also happen.  Uneven weight distribution of hoarded materials can damage the home or cause structural collapse.

But more than this, hoarders are less likely to keep up with needed maintenance in the home.  Let’s not forget the vermin who will be taking up residence, they will start to eat their way through wall, floors and wiring… a recipe for disaster.

Psychological & Sociological Hazards

A person’s quality of life is also adversely affected by hoarding behavior.  This can lead to a number effects that are much less visible, but just as devastating.

Because this behavior can cause conflicts with family, friends and neighbors, hoarders often become reclusive.  They don’t feel comfortable leaving their home, thus avoid social interaction and often fall into depression.

Finally, this destructive behavior can lead to financial issues.  If they even leave their home to go to work, they will usually spend the majority of their money on more ‘things.’  This can eventually lead to legal issues by defaulting on bills or when agitated neighbors get ‘fed up’ with what they consider to be deplorable conditions.

Cleaning Out The Hoard

Your friends and neighbors here at SERVPRO of Belfast/Camden/Rockland hope that you never have to deal with a relative who is a hoarder.  But if you have someone in your life that is at risk from this situation, use this time of year to help them.

For help with emergency clean out situations, call us at 207-338-1850.

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