Compulsive hoarding is a debilitating psychological condition that is only just beginning to be recognised.

A very basic description of a compulsive hoarder is someone unable to dispose of excess or unused things to the point where their belongings are clogging their living space.

Fires and hoarding / clutter

  • High levels of clutter make it much easier for a fire to start.
  • Creates a greater risk of the fire spreading.
  • Makes it difficult to escape.
  • Increases the risk of injury and death from fire.

Identifying clutter

Rating 1Rating 4Rating 9

The images above show the same room with clutter ratings 1, 4 and 9. A rating of 1 to four is normal. A rating between 5 and 9 is cause for concern.

Request a safe and well visit

If you are worried about safety in your home or of someone you know you can request a FREE safe and well visit.

The visit will give firefighters a chance to work with a person who might have a dangerous amount of clutter in their home and make sure they know what to do if there is a fire and how to escape.

Helping hoarders to help themselves - top tips

If you store large amounts of possessions in and around your home, you can help keep yourself safe from fire by following the advice below. These ‘top tips’ are small, simple steps that can easily be included in your regular weekly/daily clearance sessions.

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it as part of your regular clearance sessions. You can contact your local fire service for advice.
  • Make it a priority to keep the cooking area clear.
  • Do not place items on or close to heaters, lamps or other electrical equipment.
  • Do not store cylinders in your home as they are a serious hazard during a fire.
  • Put ashtrays on a flat, stable surfaces so that it can’t tip over easily. Don’t leave lit cigarettes unattended.
  • Put candles / tea lights in heat resistant holders that hold the candle / tea light firmly and ensure it is placed on a flat, stable, heat resistant surface.
  • Keep candles / tea lights away from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.
  • Plan and practise how to escape from your home if there were a fire. Choose an escape route and keep it clear.
  • Ensure possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they become unstable.
  • Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly.
  • In the event of a fire, do not attempt to put it out yourself. Leave your home straight away and call the fire brigade once you are safely outside. Do not stop on your way out to collect possessions and do not go back inside once you have escaped.
  • If you feel that you need some help or assistance with the above, there are many organisations that will support you through the process free of charge.

More top tips and information on hoarding is available on www.helpforhoarders.co.uk