Fire Risks: The Dangers of Hoarding
What is hoarding?
Hoarding is defined as collecting large amounts of items with an inability to throw them away. Hoarding disorder can be diagnosed as an illness in its own right, with sufferers often finding themselves very distressed or upset when faced with having to discard items – often leading to such a build up of belongings that their living space and quality of life is severely restricted.
Whilst hoarding disorder is on the extreme side of the scale, many people are guilty of stockpiling useless items both at home and in the office. If you’re spending time in a cluttered environment, you could be presenting a serious fire risk to yourself, others, and the surrounding area.
Hoarding items you’ve collected over the years may seem innocent enough, but large quantities of flammable materials could be putting you at risk:
- Large amounts of combustible materials increase the risk of a fire starting and spreading
- Blocks fire escape routes
- Smoke develops quicker
- Fire spreads faster
How to keep safe
Of course, the safest way to protect yourself and others against the fire risk hoarding presents is to clear out all the junk you don’t use. Hire a skip and recycle as much unused waste as possible, and clear the space to eliminate any potential hazards.
However, for some, throwing out collections that have been built up over years is not that easy. If you’re keen to make your home or office more fire safe, but reluctant to throw out the clutter just yet, try these tips to minimise your risk of a fire breaking out:
- Keep cooking areas clear at all times, with no combustible materials that could catch alight and spread a fire quickly. Never leave food cooking unattended.
- Avoid placing any items – especially combustibles – on or near heaters or other electrical equipment.
- Use an ashtray if you smoke, and never leave lit cigarettes unattended.
- If you are lighting candles, keep them away from anything that could catch fire and ensure they are stored in heat resistant containers or holders at all times. Never leave a candle unattended.
- Check your smoke alarm regularly, and replace batteries when needed.
- Plan out an evacuation route in the case of a fire, and ensure that this route is kept clear without obstruction at all times – this could save lives in the event of a fire.
- Do not try to put a fire out yourself. If you have a lot of clutter hoarded away in the workplace or at home and a fire does break out, it is likely to spread very quickly. Get out of the building as soon as possible and call the fire services once you are outside.
Support for hoarders
For more information about hoarding, including where to get support for compulsive hoarding, see here.
Fire Safety with Target Fire
If you’re the owner of a commercial property or business and you’re worried the space is hoarding too many items, you can contact our team at Target Fire Protection to conduct a fire risk assessment of your property. We’ll survey your building and provide a report with all hazards we identify – enabling you to take the necessary steps to ensure your premises are fire safe. We often work around Manchester, Rochdale, Bury and Oldham but we cover the whole of the UK.