Hoarding is defined as keeping or collecting large amounts of items due to strong urges or depressed feelings when discarding them. Hoarding can take over houses as the amount of items collected fills rooms and affects day to day living. It is a mental disorder that can be brought on by traumatic events or by genetics. As a person gets older, the hoarding expands.

Safety can become neglected when hoarding:

  • Stacks of items can block necessary exits in the event of a fire.

  • Items can fall and injure occupants.

  • Occupants can trip and fall over items.

  • Items built up in kitchen can easily ignite when cooking.

  • Rodents, insects, etc can build nests or chew through wires.

  • Build up of items can collapse during fire more easily. Large piles are also heavy and can weaken floor boards and structure causing quicker collapse of structure.

Many occupants that live in a residence with hoarding die in the event of a fire due to no escape route. The build up of items and materials also burn faster and give more fuel to a fire. The addition of that can create more smoke, and faster burning fires. 

Emergency responders also face obstacles when having to enter a home affected by hoarding. Blocked exits, build up of materials, etc can put firefighters at risk when needing to enter the building.  

For more information:

NFPA Hoarding and the Fire Service

Hoarding

© 2016 by Maryland Life Safety Information Exchange.